Union alleges 'systemic deficiencies' in NetJets' training program

The dispute between NetJets and its pilots’ union took another downward turn as NJASAP asserts ‘many and varied deficiencies in the training program’.

By Doug Gollan, June 21, 2023

NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP) filed a Class Action Grievance “to address systemic deficiencies that have decimated the NetJets training program.”

According to a press release issued by the union, which represents over 3,000 of the fractional operator’s pilots, NJASAP alleges, “NetJets is failing to provide adequate and standardized training across all segments of the pilot group from its newly hired pilots who are completing initial aircraft training to crewmembers who have been on property for decades and are completing new aircraft transition training.”

“The quality of the NetJets training product has significantly diminished, which is very concerning to NJASAP given the number of ongoing and scheduled training events required to accommodate the dramatic expansion of our fleet,” said NJASAP President Capt. Pedro Leroux.

He continued, “One of NJASAP’s most pressing concerns is specific to instructors: In several instances, training is being conducted by new, inexperienced staff who have little to no knowledge of NetJets’ standard operating procedures and aircraft.”

NJASAP also asserted, “The instructor-to-pilot ratio is too high to facilitate a productive training environment, and there is a profound lack of standardization in the delivery of study materials and instructor familiarity with the same.”

Leroux claimed, “Many pilots are seeking resources outside the established training curriculum to offset inadequacies in their instruction.”

He added, “When pilots are so concerned about the level of instruction that they have no choice but to supplement their training resources outside the classroom, you have a very big problem on your hands.”

NJASAP alleges, “These many and varied deficiencies in the training program constitute an egregious violation of the parties’ collective bargaining agreement, which NJASAP will endeavor to remediate through the minor dispute resolution process codified in the CBA. The matter must be heard within 10 business days unless the parties mutually agree to an extension.”

NJASAP versus NetJets

The filing is the latest in an increasingly toxic battle.

In April, NJASAP sued the company alleging violations of federal labor law, saying the company was suppressing union-related pilot speech

As major airlines offer their pilots packages with increases up to 40%, NJASAP is seeking to renegotiate its current agreement.

United Airlines said its new pay deal will add $8 billion in costs over four years.

NJASAP has been holding informational pickets during major sporting events such as Super Bowl and the Masters and recently picketed outside the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting.

During the meeting, Berkshire Chairman Warren Buffett responded to a question about NetJets by praising its Chairman and CEO, Adam Johnson.

Vice Chairman Charlie Munger joined Buffett, adding, “NetJets has been remarkable. You can argue it’s worth as much as any airline now.”

Berkshire Hathaway doesn’t break out the results for the subsidiary.

However, executives have said they are sold out of delivery slots until well into next year.

As it expands its fleet, NetJets has been adding to the ranks of its pilots.

The union says without a better pay package, the fractional will lose pilots to higher paying jobs at the Part 121 airlines.

A representative of NetJets declined to comment.

READ: NetJets 2023 Update

NJASAP versus Flexjet

In 2019, rival Flexjet, the second-largest U.S. private jet operator whose pilots decertified their union, ran an ad campaign targeting NetJets.

One of the ad executions read, “Happy Pilots Are Safe Pilots.”

Flexjet pilots
In 2019, Flexjet tweaked NJASAP and NetJets in an ad campaign after alleging a campaign of harassment by NJASAP against Flexjet employees.

Another ad stated, “Non-Union Pilots Tend To Smile More.”

It followed a lawsuit by Flexjet against NJASAP, accusing the union of “menacing and intimidation.”

At the time, Flexjet Chairman Kenn Ricci said, “Unions such as NJASAP, who were not at all involved with the recent decertification election (by Flexjet pilots), need to understand they cannot do or say anything they want without consequences. This was not campaign speech or meant to do anything other than maliciously threaten those who spoke up in favor of decertification.”

In 2015, an uprising by NJASAP led to the ouster of then Chairman and CEO Jordan Hansell, who Johnson replaced.

Under Johnson, NetJets had been enjoying a period of peace and prosperity.

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