Despite the outward appearance of growth with the recent announcement about the addition of Bombardier Global 6000s to its fleet, NetJets Europe is seeking further voluntary redundancies from its pilot workforce in response to prolonged softening in demand for fractional shares and jet cards, the company confirmed. It has begun a consultation process with flight crews, repeating an exercise that it embarked on three years ago at the height of the financial crisis.
The economy is getting better, which means some things may be getting worse. That’s how it appears as the business aviation industry slowly and haltingly starts to emerge from a long and deep recession and a search begins for skilled labor to fill the growing number of openings.
A total of 119 more American Eagle ATR 72 pilots flying out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport face possible furloughs in connection with American Airlines’ Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.
In mid-April, Midcoast Aviation senior v-p of green completions Rodger Renaud described business at the East Cahokia, Ill.-based maintenance and operations facility as “certainly better now than [at] this time last year.” Slightly more than a month later, on May 26, the company announced the layoff of 80 employees.
Jet Aviation laid off 94 full-time employees at its completions and maintenance facility in Basel, Switzerland. The employees were let go last month but would be paid for an additional two or three months, depending on the terms of their contracts. According to a company spokesman, there will be a reduction of almost 200 people at the facility with the departure of some contract personnel and some staff who are leaving voluntarily.
Fractional provider NetJets on September 11 announced the first major workforce reduction since David Sokol took over in early August as chairman and acting CEO, following the resignation of company founder Richard Santulli on August 4.
NetJets Europe has achieved its goal of reducing flight crew capacity by 60,000 pilot duty days per year in response to declining demand for its fractional ownership and block charter services.
In hard times past, when an economic crisis resulted in reduced demand for business aircraft and business aviation services, layoffs were common, often with little notice and minimal compensation. In this recession, which has hit business aviation like the downhill run on a roller coaster with no bottom in sight, companies have sought to ease the trauma of job loss.
A voluntary furlough-mitigation program collaboratively formed in April by NetJets and its pilot union, the NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP), has averted layoffs and furloughs. “Through innovative and purely voluntary measures, NetJets has been able to align our pilot and other areas of our workforce to match our current owner demand levels,” NetJets chairman and CEO Richard Santulli told AIN.
“The layoffs came primarily in initial engineering and design. Less affected were our main production activities such as building interiors, painting and flight test,” a Dassault Falcon spokesman told AIN in regard to the layoff of 111 workers last week from the Little Rock Completion Center.
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