Front-page ad in The Wall Street Journal comes amid stalled labor negotiations
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Dec. 1, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Today, the NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP), the independent pilot labor union that represents the pilots who fly for Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary NetJets Aviation, Inc., took out a front-page ad in The Wall Street Journal directly calling out Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett. The ad comes after negotiations between NJASAP and NetJets deteriorated based on the Fractional’s refusal to pay market-rate wages for pilot labor and to make commonsense enhancements to current scheduling practices.
As the competition to retain talented aviators amid a deepening labor crisis escalates, NetJets’ stance has left the Union baffled. In the ad, NJASAP emphasizes NetJets’ refusal to invest in its pilots – the group that plays the most direct role in delivering the brand’s product – and questions whether owners are getting the value that should arguably accompany the Fractional’s premium price tag. Unsurprisingly, hundreds of pilots have left the company this year alone to pursue more lucrative careers elsewhere in the aviation industry, and NJASAP expects the pace of attrition to accelerate rapidly in the first quarter of 2024.
“Right now, we are seeing a trend unfold that is almost unheard of in aviation: Pilots in the middle of their careers with decades of experience are leaving to start at the bottom of seniority lists at mainline carriers that recognize the value of retaining talented aviators,” NJASAP President Capt. Pedro Leroux said. “An unscheduled operation as dynamic as NetJets demands high-caliber aviators: Owners pay for the peace of mind that comes from having two experienced pilots seated on the flight deck, but right now, we are seeing quality pilots across the seniority spectrum leave the Fractional, and both Berkshire Hathaway and NetJets executives are seemingly just fine with that.”
At the bargaining table, NetJets has never claimed it cannot afford to pay market-rate wages for pilot labor or to make other competitive adjustments to the pilots’ contract – only that it is unwilling to do so. Importantly, overdue adjustments to scheduling practices would help ensure the pilot group – the men and women who fly the world’s wealthiest people to some of the most remote and challenging locations in the world – have more manageable duty periods.
“Throughout the bargaining process, pilot negotiators have worked with tremendous focus and intention to craft proposals that would make real improvements to life on the road while addressing the company’s concerns,” NJASAP Negotiating Committee Chairman Capt. Mike Pascalar said. “The company, however, refused to budge despite our commitment to explore creative solutions and to engage them in that process through joint working sessions.” Importantly, the company rejected this approach and the competitive adjustments necessary to keep experienced pilots at NetJets as Berkshire Hathaway sits on a record-breaking $157.2 billion cash pile.
“Although Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway tout NetJets as a luxury private air carrier, they are offering budget compensation to the pilot group,” NJASAP Vice President Capt. Paulette Gilbert said. As NJASAP made clear in the ad, NetJets pilots are not content to earn 60% of what their JetBlue, United and Delta peers will make across a 30-year career. “Excellent pilots are moving on, and we expect more to follow,” Gilbert said, adding, “If even half of the pilots who have expressed their intention to move on in one year’s time do so, NJASAP has no idea how NetJets will manage to keep its promise of providing exceptional experiences to owners. We would be very interested in hearing their thoughts on that.”
Not content to sit by and watch the carrier become a steppingstone, NetJets pilots continue to place public pressure on the company, Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway, including recently hosting informational pickets in Las Vegas and on Wall Street. The pilots are scheduled to convene their next informational picket on Friday, Dec. 8 at 1300ET in conjunction with Art Basel in Miami.
Founded in 2008 as an independent labor advocate, the NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP) represents the professional interests of the 3,200-plus pilots who fly in the service of NetJets Aviation, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary. For more information, please visit our websites, www.njasap.com and www.genuineqs.com, or find us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/njasap, Instagram, www.instagram.com/njasap, and Twitter, @njasap.
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SOURCE NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP)
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