February 14, 2006

NetJets is Hiring 280 More Pilots

By Richard Newman, The Record, Hackensack, N.J.

Feb. 14--NetJets Aviation said Monday that it is adding 450 pilots this year to keep up with rising demand for high-end air travel.

The business-jet industry is booming, and NetJets, along with other charter companies, expects to be increasing the size of its fleet in the coming years. Also, the Woodbridge-based firm wants to have more pilots on staff per aircraft than it now has, to ensure that pilot rest requirements are met, a company official said.

So far this year, NetJets has hired 180 pilots, leaving 270 more to hit the 450 goal.

NetJets a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary, sells business jets as if they were time-share condominiums. Businesses and wealthy individuals, who include Don Imus and Tiger Woods, buy shares in aircraft, giving them rights to book flights and crews to take them anywhere in the world, with a few hours' notice. It costs less than buying a jet.

The company sells Marquis Jet cards, which represent a 25-hour, prepaid lease on an aircraft, and is designed for people who fly less than 50 hours a year. Prices start at around $115,900, and availability is guaranteed on as little as 10 hours' notice.

Industrywide, business jets are expected to generate $156 billion in sales from 2005 to 2015, says Honeywell International's latest Business Aviation Outlook. NetJets, which currently operates 420 planes, recently ordered 50 Hawker 4000 aircraft from Raytheon Aircraft Co. in Wichita, Kan., for delivery in 2007 to 2013.

Gary Hart, vice president of flight operations for NetJets, said Monday that probably more than 100 of the new pilots are destined for Teterboro, which is one of the company's busiest airports.

"There is a tremendous owner base in that area; we need a lot of flight crews available in that area," he said.

Other pilots will be sent to Los Angeles, Dallas, West Palm Beach or Columbus, Ohio, he said.

The new pilots are finding the pay is better at NetJets than it was last year.

Dozens of NetJets pilots picketed Teterboro, in March, complaining of low pay. Eventually they won their first raise since 1999.

The company is getting plenty of applications from pilots who have retired from commercial airlines and the military, Hart said.


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