It’s all too easy for industry analysts to say that if the air-limo concept–point-to-point service for the masses–is possible, someone would already have done it. Perhaps they’re missing the bigger picture, which is that all of the ingredients to create a viable air limo aren’t yet available.
Last month, the Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (ASAP)–the union representing NetJets pilots– began its “informational picketing,” a campaign that includes this billboard near Teterboro Airport, N.J. The billboard notes that the pilots and NetJets management have been in negotiations for about three-and-a-half years, and suggests that a strike is possible after June 24.
David Calvert-Jones was promoted to chief executive of Los Angeles-based Helinet Aviation Services. He was previously senior v-p of corporate strategy and most recently served as interim CEO.
Alexandria, Va.-based Flight Explorer named James Kelly president and CEO. Kelly, who was founder, president and CEO of SynXis, replaces Walt Kross.
Iridium said the number of aircraft fitted with its satellite communications equipment has grown by more than 100 percent in the last year. Iridium subscribers in the aviation market recently surpassed 5,000, the company announced, adding that the number of aircraft fitted with Iridium-based data systems has grown 200 percent in the last 12 months.
Increasing demand from wealthy individuals for the Bombardier Skyjet International fixed-rate block charter program has prompted the company to experiment with a new option called Jet Membership Light. This option–which gives customers 25 hours in light jets for $135,000 (€112,500)–is currently available only in Europe.
As demand for commercial air travel increases in India, business aviation entrepreneurs are clamoring for position in a classic chicken-and-egg scenario. Those who will be successful must make an early entry into the market, but they are severely limited in their ability to operate because the infrastructure to support general aviation is still being developed.
The unionized NetJets pilots, represented by IBT Local 1108, on November 21 overwhelmingly ratified the tentative labor agreement signed on October 8, nearly four years after the pilots’ contract became amendable. Of the valid 1,924 ballots received (about 91 percent of the NetJets pilot workforce), 1,616 (84 percent) voted for the work contract and 308 (16 percent) opposed it.
The late Randy Kennedy, who wrote a chapter or two in the book for corporate pilots in the U.S., once said, “Don’t tell anyone, but you can teach monkeys to fly these airplanes safely. The hard part of this job is acquiring the correct service mentality.”
Contract talks between NetJets management and pilots broke down once again on September 12, three days shy of a scheduled 30-day marathon bargaining session. The pilots’ union negotiation committee said it walked out of the talks “because the company has continuously failed to respond to the union’s position regarding the pilot group’s bargaining thresholds,” namely salary expectations.
In the first eight months of this year, the top five fractional operators hired more pilots than they did in all of last year, according to aviation job placement firm AIR of Atlanta. NetJets, Flight Options, Flexjet, CitationShares and Avantair hired 498 pilots through August this year versus 482 for all of last year.