NetJets Pilot Union Airs Grievances in Wall Street Journal Ad

The high-profile protest is designed to apply pressure to NetJets parent company Berkshire Hathaway.

Members of the NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots have staged protests over pay and scheduling. [Courtesy: NJASAP]

A group of pilots has called out its boss, famous investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet, with a Wall Street Journal ad criticizing corporate policy at NetJets Aviation Inc., the Berkshire Hathaway unit where it works.

The pilots, who are members of the NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP), an independent pilot labor union, said they took out the front-page ad after their negotiations with NetJets soured. The union said NetJets has refused “to pay market-rate wages for pilot labor and to make commonsense enhancements to current scheduling practices.”

NetJets and Berkshire Hathaway have not responded to FLYING for a request for comment.

The union said hundreds of pilots have left NetJets this year to take jobs with better working conditions, and that it expects more rapid attrition during the first quarter of 2024. In its statement the union said it is “baffled” by the company’s policy given the current pilot shortage and industrywide competition to hire and retain qualified flight crews.

“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,” said Captain Pedro Leroux, union president. “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 [aircraft operator], and both Berkshire Hathaway and NetJets executives are seemingly just fine with that.

Among the union’s complaints is a claim that the company has declined to increase pilots’ compensation to a level competitive with that of those at major airlines. NJASAP said NetJets pilots are “not content to earn 60 percent of what their JetBlue, United, and Delta peers will make across a 30-year career.”

The union said it continues to organize pickets in Las Vegas and on Wall Street to apply pressure on NetJets, Berkshire Hathaway, and Buffett. Members plan to hold their next demonstration on Friday in conjunction with the Art Basel event in Miami.

The relationship between NetJets and its pilots has shown signs of discord for years. NJASAP was formed in 2008 and has a history of staging highly visible protests, including previous Wall Street Journal ads.

Jonathan Welsh is a private pilot who worked as a reporter, editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal for 21 years, mostly covering the auto industry. His passion for aviation began in childhood with balsa-wood gliders his aunt would buy for him at the corner store. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonathanWelsh4

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