NetJets Pilots Approve Labor Agreement

Pilots with NetJets Inc., a private air charter service that caters to companies and business executives, have approved an agreement that ends a four-year-old labor dispute.

NetJets Inc. and the pilots' union said Tuesday in a joint release that 84 percent of pilots voted in favor of the contract, which was tentatively agreed upon last month. The union has about 2,000 members.

The five-year contract approved Monday allows for more pilot participation in training and safety issues, and requires that NetJets pilots be hired to fly jets in what's expected to be a growing business involving so-called "very light jets," or smaller aircraft than the type the company currently uses.

Company president Bill Boisture wouldn't release salary details but said the agreement puts pilots ahead of competitors for total compensation.

NetJets, with flight operations in Columbus and executive offices in Woodbridge, N.J., provides private air service for companies and individuals. Customers buy fractional shares of an aircraft in exchange for access to flight service.

Customers include General Electric Co. and Dow Chemical Co., tennis stars Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi and golfer Tiger Woods.

NetJets is owned by Omaha, Neb.-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc., led by investor Warren Buffett.

Last month, union president Bill Olsen said NetJets pilots were making from $50,000 to $72,000 a year, while those flying similar planes for competing companies made up to $105,000 a year.

Olsen said the proposed contract would "bridge the gap" by immediately raising pay 40 percent to 60 percent based on years of service and equipment operated.


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