NetJets Pilots Picket Airports at Start of Busy Memorial Day Travel Weekend

Pilots at Teterboro, NJ and West Palm Beach, FL Airports Want Fair Contract

WASHINGTON, May 27 /PRNewswire/ — More than 60 pilots from NetJets picketed today outside two of the company’s busiest locations, First Aviation at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey and Signature Flight Support in West Palm Beach, Florida at the start of the busy Memorial Day travel weekend.

The pilots handed out leaflets to raise awareness about their continued struggle to receive a fair contract from the fractional airline. “Our issues have seemingly fallen on deaf ears,” said Captain Alan Hayes, a NetJets pilot for three years. “There is a real problem in this company when our pilots are paid around half the industry average for flying the same equipment.”

Little progress has been made with NetJets in negotiations that have been ongoing since October 2001, and were suspended by the National Mediation Board earlier this week. A contract proposal presented in August 2004 was rejected by more than 82 percent of the union’s 2,000 pilots.

Fractional airlines like NetJets fly some of the world’s wealthiest and most influential individuals to destinations on-demand. NetJets, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, has dominated the fractional industry with over half of the market share. Pilots picketed Berkshire Hathaway shareholders’ meeting in Omaha, Neb., earlier this month.

NetJets pilots, recognized as the safest in the private jet industry, endure low wages, insufficient benefits and unreasonable scheduling demands. The average salary of a NetJets captain is only 55 percent of the industry average for the same equipment flown, while the average salary for a NetJets first officer is only 40 percent of the industry average. The starting salary for a NetJets first officer is $27,108.

“It is time for management to step to the plate and propose an agreement that includes a wage and benefit package that shows they recognize the outstanding job these pilots are doing,” said Nick Reyer, a business agent for Teamsters Local 1108 in Columbus, Ohio. “Eighteen percent of our pilots make a salary that qualifies them for public assistance — that is unacceptable.”

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