Fractional provider NetJets is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of its corporate ancestor, U.S. air charter and management company Executive Jet Airways, later renamed Executive Jet Aviation. The first celebration took place today at EBACE, with follow-on festivities scheduled for NetJets’ main headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, tomorrow; at the company’s offices in London on Thursday; and at NetJets Europe’s offices in Lisbon, Portugal, on Friday. EJA was founded on May 21, 1964, by a group of retired World War II U.S. Air Force generals led by Brigadier General O. F.“Dick” Lassiter.
The NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP) and International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 284 executive boards launched the NetJets Unions Coalition last week, citing “minimal progress and unjustifiable demands” during ongoing contract talks. NJASAP represents the more than 3,000 NetJets pilots, while Local 284 represents some 500 NetJets dispatchers, flight attendants, maintenance controllers, mechanics and stock clerks.
A busy year for upheaval in the fractional ownership and closed-fleet private aviation sectors reached a crescendo in December when Flight Options parent company Directional Aviation Capital completed its $185 million acquisition of Bombardier’s Flexjet program.
A legal battle is under way between the nation’s largest private aviation provider and two of the major FBO chains over whether NetJets’ aircraft charter and management arm, Executive Jet Management, can require the chains to provide fuel discounts to aircraft owners and operators whose aircraft are not part of the company’s fully managed fleet.
NetJets has filed lawsuits against Signature Flight Support and Landmark Aviation in an attempt to force the two FBO chains to extend contracted high-volume fuel discounts to Support Services clients at NetJets aircraft charter and management arm Executive Jet Management.
Signature Flight Support and NetJets broke ground today on a 10,000-sq-ft dedicated passenger terminal solely for NetJets customers at Palm Beach International Airport in Florida. The $13 million facility, which will open in the second half of next year, is being developed under a partnership between the FBO chain and fractional provider. Attending the event were Signature and NetJets executives, local elected officials and a half dozen students enrolled in the aviation program at the nearby Boynton Beach Community High School.
Cessna Aircraft recently broke ground on a Wichita Citation Columbus design and assembly facility. The standalone, 600,000-sq-ft facility will start producing the new large-cabin twinjet in late 2013. The Citation program will create up to 1,000 new jobs with an estimated annual payroll of $74 million. Deliveries of the Columbus are expected to begin in 2014.
EADS North America chairman and CEO Ralph Crosby trumpeted Eurocopter’s newfound status as “a valued, trusted contributor to the U.S. industrial base,” following its win of a contract to supply the U.S. Army with 322 UH-145 light helicopters. “The U.S. defense market is where we have to be,” said Crosby. And who could argue?