Tags: warren buffett | netjets | pilots | chief executive

Buffett's NetJets Names New CEO Amid Pilot Labor Dispute

Tuesday, 02 Jun 2015 09:05 AM

NetJets Inc., the luxury aviation unit of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., said on Monday Jordan Hansell is stepping down as chairman and chief executive, in the midst of a bitter two-year contract dispute with its pilots.

Hansell, 44, had been chief executive since 2011, two years after joining Columbus, Ohio-based NetJets as general counsel.

Adam Johnson, also 44, was promoted to chairman and chief executive, effective immediately, from the role of president.

NetJets also said Bill Noe, 50, rejoined as president and chief operating officer, a position he held before leaving a few months ago for General Electric Co.

It was not immediately clear why Hansell left. A NetJets spokeswoman declined to comment.

"For his hard work and his success in leading NetJets through a very tumultuous economic period, Jordan has earned our sincerest thanks and best wishes for his next endeavors," Johnson said in a statement.

NetJets specializes in "fractional" aircraft ownership, which lets individuals and companies buy shares of private jets, and travel on short notice with greater privacy than on commercial aircraft.

Berkshire paid $725 million for NetJets in 1998, but the business became an albatross as it took on $1.9 billion of debt, losing $711 million in 2009.

Buffett then installed top deputy David Sokol to fix what he called "Berkshire's only major business problem," only to have Sokol leave in 2011 after revealing he had bought shares in a chemical company that he was successfully urging Buffett to buy.

NetJets has been profitable under Hansell, but his tenure has been marred by a dispute with the NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots, which represents more than 2,700 pilots.

The union has accused NetJets of trying to unnecessarily cut jobs and obtain concessions on healthcare, job security and work rules, and bait pilots through bogus Twitter postings to conduct work slowdowns for which they could be fired.

At Berkshire's annual meeting on May 2, Buffett maintained that "we have no anti-union agenda whatsoever."

Pedro Leroux, the union's president, in a statement said he hopes Johnson and Noe "share our goal of rebuilding a once progressive labor-management relationship."

NetJets is one of Berkshire's smaller units, generating about 2 percent of the Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate's revenue, according to regulatory filings.

Berkshire owns more than 80 other businesses in such areas as insurance, railroads, energy, and consumer goods.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

   
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NetJets Inc., the luxury aviation unit of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., said on Monday Jordan Hansell is stepping down as chairman and chief executive, in the midst of a bitter two-year contract dispute with its pilots.
warren buffett, netjets, pilots, chief executive
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2015-05-02
Tuesday, 02 Jun 2015 09:05 AM
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