Throughout the summer, bargaining teams from NetJets and its Pilots’ union have been working on the terms of a new contract with the goal of a tentative agreement by September 3rd. Their progress has been remarkable; we’ve moved further this summer than in the last two years. Despite that effort – which is a credit to both parties – we have not hit our self-imposed deadline. Even so, the milestone gives us a chance to pause, to take stock of where things stand and to preview what the road ahead looks like.
First, NetJets and its Pilots owe a debt of thanks to both negotiating teams. With a few exceptions, they have settled the non-economic issues. That they didn’t close out the whole contract says nothing about their effort and everything about the scale of what’s left.
What’s left are economic issues like pay and benefits where we’re still a long way apart. Much of this difference is due to the parties’ views about the economics of this business – and thus how much additional cost we can take on over the next decade – as well as different expectations concerning the demand for the services we provide.
We’re fully committed to a fair agreement with our Pilots’ union and we have every reason to expect that a negotiated settlement remains both parties’ goal. We’re prepared to meet when and where directed by our mediator and to keep open the lines of communication between the company and the union that have worked so well since June.
Our Pilot contract is just one part of our Company’s equation that has to be balanced along with our other legitimate needs. We’re a unique company that needs to reinvest in its Brand. We have tremendous opportunities and immediate challenges that require our attention. We have to deliver on our promises of safety, integrity, operational excellence, Owner, employee and shareholder value. It means that our commitment to our Pilots has to be in balance with our commitments to our other team members and to our other critical stakeholders.
Bill Noe and I came back to NetJets in June to work on these initiatives because we believe that no one can match this team’s talent, experience and will to lead. We came back for the thrill of working alongside people who are passionate about being the best. The men and women on our flight decks, in our cabins and offices, on the ramps and in the hangars are the best at what we do and we’re proud to call them colleagues.
Adam M. Johnson