NetJets sues NJASAP for defamation

The union representing pilots at NetJets is doubling down about safety concerns following a lawsuit by the company alleging defamation.

By Doug Gollan, June 5, 2024

NetJets has filed a defamation lawsuit against the NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots, the union representing the fractional operator’s over 3,400 pilots.

(A copy of the lawsuit is linked at the bottom of this story)

The lawsuit, which was filed Monday in Franklin County, Ohio, cites press releases, website posts, and advertisements from NJASAP.

News of the lawsuit was revealed this afternoon when the union issued a press release to say it was being sued.

In the lawsuit NetJets alleges NJASAP “disparaged the services and business of NetJets by making and publishing false and/or misleading representations of fact-including…defamatory statements.”

‘NJASAP stands by the concerns we have raised about pilot training and the safety and maintenance cultures – concerns that have only increased in intensity in recent months.’

– Pedro Leroux, President of NJASAP

It says the union “intentionally and knowingly published…materially false statements of fact – not opinion – to the public, including NetJets’ existing and potential customers via website postings, social media, press releases, and even advertisements in the Wall Street Journal.”

The filing alleges, “NJASAP’s knowingly false statements are antithetical to the well-earned reputation NetJets has built as an industry leader in private aviation, constitute defamation per se under Ohio law, were made with actual malice, and have caused, are causing, and were clearly intended to cause harm (both actual and presumed) to NetJets’ business interests, relationships, and reputation.”

The lawsuit cites various press releases, ads, and other media from NJASAP dating to its yearlong and contentious negotiations, which finally resulted in a revised agreement.

The new deal was approved by over 78% of pilots back in April.

It gives the cockpit crews a 52.5% increase in compensation over five years.

‘Smear and defame’

In the lawsuit, NetJets says the union “engaged in a public campaign designed to falsely smear and defame NetJets’ business and reputation by attacking its safety culture…”

Two examples come from ads placed by NJASAP in The Wall Street Journal.

One followed an incident when a door plug fell off an Alaska Airlines Boeing jetliner while in flight.

The company pointed to the ad’s headline, which read, “NetJets Owners. What if you looked out your window and saw a panel of the plane?”

The unit of Berkshire Hathaway added the advertisement, “which is clearly intended to alarm NetJets’ customers, pilots, and the traveling public is false and defamatory. NJASAP has no basis to suggest that an accident similar to the one that occurred on the Alaska Airlines flight is likely or possible to occur on a NetJets flight.”

The lawsuit alleges, “NJASAP’s publication of the defamatory statements is continuing and widespread.”

Late last month, NJASAP issued a press release accusing the company of an “assault on union member rights.”

NetJets says it is seeking unspecified relief as proven at trial, enjoining its union from continuing to publish the defamatory statements concerning the company and awarding any and all further relief in favor of NetJets as the Court deems just and proper.

NJASAP responds

The union said in a press release quoting its President Pedro Leroux, “NJASAP stands by the concerns we have raised about pilot training and the safety and maintenance cultures – concerns that have only increased in intensity in recent months.”

He added, “We view the lawsuit as an attempt to silence us, however, NJASAP has a federally protected right and an organizational and moral responsibility to our members – the NetJets pilots – and to our customers to raise safety issues, and we will continue to do just that.”

In a January letter to NJASAP during the height of negotiations, NetJets had alleged a campaign of self-help that was increasing delays and cancelations, driving up expenses.

A spokesperson for NetJets tells Private Jet Card Comparisons, “We will not comment on legal matters between NetJets and NJASAP, as our focus is on providing the exceptional safety and service our owners expect and deserve.”

Earlier today, NJASAP announced that it would join forces with Teamsters 284, which represents approximately 575 dispatchers, flight attendants, maintenance controllers, mechanics, and stock clerks, to relaunch the NetJets Unions Coalition.


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