Soaring demand for business jet fractional ownership on the continent leads operator to order 32 large aircraft

NetJets Europe is to double its pilot workforce between now and 2011 because of rapidly growing demand for business jet fractional ownership, according to chairman and chief executive Mark Booth.

The demand is particularly strong for the larger aircraft that operate with a cabin attendant, says marketing director Robert Dranitzke, so the company will also be doubling the number of cabin crew it employs to 150.

Booth described the company's latest big aircraft order as "pure expansion", as the new aircraft will not be replacing any in the existing fleet. Formally announced at EBACE, the order covered 32 Hawker 4000 super-mid-size business jets to be delivered between 2008 and 2016.

The company says its pilot workforce is to double from the 750 it employs currently to the 1,500 it will need in four years' time. The NetJets European fleet stands at 124 aircraft, rising to 138 by the end of the year.

The company began 2007 with an estimated need for 180 pilots, but now needs 225 by the end of the year because of fleet expansion, according to Dranitzke. Booth is confident of attracting the talent required: "We changed pilot compensation at the beginning of the year," he says, adding: "Since then we have had a huge inflow of pilot resumés."

NetJet Europe pilots work six days on, five days off, explains Booth. Dranitzke adds that current applicants have an average of 3,000h experience and some 60% of those offered the NetJets package take it up.

Source: Flight International