Pilots at US fractional-ownership operator NetJets have voted overwhelming to accept a new labour agreement, ending a four-year dispute. The five-year deal, which improves wages, job security and productivity, was endorsed by 84% of the company’s 2,200 pilots.

NetJets’ flight attendants ratified a new five-year contract in September, but the Columbus, Ohio-based company has yet to reach an agreement with its maintenance mechanics, who are also represented by the Teamsters union. Mediated negotiations will resume in December.

The new pilots’ contract will increase loss-making NetJets’ costs, “but we have got some good efficiency commitments from the union”, says president Bill Boisture. The agreement also creates a partnership, providing for union participation on key committees to manage safety, hiring, training, travel and standards.

The contract establishes a seven days on/seven days off duty cycle, but allowing pilots to bid for higher-paying, more-productive reserve schedules. At least 10% of pilots will be on the more demanding reserve schedule, down from 50% before, Boisture says, “but as many as want to can bid”.

Existing pilots can continue to fly from their home base, but new recruits must be based in one of five major metropolitan areas. This and other changes will allow NetJets to use the first and last days of the duty cycle more efficiently, says Boisture. The company plans to hire 300 pilots this year and a “couple of hundred” in 2007.


Source: Flight International