A major global fractional aircraft ownership company, NetJets flies to 170 countries and operates more than 650 planes co-owned by its clients, who are guaranteed an aircraft within a few hours' notice. Along with flying the plane, NetJets arranges a variety of travel-related services, from catering to emergency medical treatment. In addition to its co-owned fleet, NetJets also offers a 25 hour flight-time card and manages planes on behalf of individual owners. The company was founded in 1964 as Executive Jet, a charter company, and later introduced the aircraft fractional ownership concept.
NetJets maintains a geographic presence in North America, Europe, and soon Asia, specifically China, where it established a joint venture in 2012 that is awaiting regulatory approvals.
NetJets is comprised of several companies. NetJets Aviation is its main entity, operating all its aircraft; NetJets Europe is managed by NetJets Transportes Aéreos, SA, an EU carrier located in Lisbon, Portugal. Executive Jet Management offers air charter services and turnkey and charter aircraft management services.
NetJets is part of Berkshire Hathaway's "Other service" segment, which in addition includes TTI (an electronic components distributor); Business Wire (a corporate news distributor); and Pampered Chef (a direct seller of kitchen tools).
The "Other service" segment saw fiscal 2011 revenues increase 8% over 2010, thanks to higher revenues at NetJets. NetJets' increase in revenues resulted from aircraft operating cost increases that were passed on to customers and slight increases in rates. Revenue hours flown in 2011 remained about flat compared to 2010.
Even with Warren Buffett's backing, NetJets, like all aviation companies, has battled financial woes brought on by the economic downturn. Cost-cutting measures, including early retirements, reduced hours, pilot union concessions, and leave of absence elections, have helped improve the company's balance sheet. The turnaround was complete enough that in 2012 NetJets announced deals to buy up to 425 new aircraft from Cessna and Bombardier. Those deals follow the 2011 purchase of 120 new Bombardier jets for nearly $7 billion (which came after the cancellation of several new aircraft orders in 2010).
Despite the sluggish economy, NetJets retains its industry leadership position with an estimated 60% market share. It further cemented its hold in late 2010 with the purchase of Marquis Jet Partners. The new subsidiary sells the Marquis Jet Card, allowing customers to purchase flying time in 25-hour blocks. The deal gave NetJets an offering for businesses and wealthy individuals who want the private jet experience but fly less than 50 hours a year, the smallest fractional share available. Hoping to leave no wallet unopened, NetJets also began offering lease and financing options for fractional owners.
Extending its reach into the most populous region in the world, NetJets in 2012 announced the creation of NetJets China Business Aviation Limited, its joint venture in China. NetJets is sharing ownership with a group of Chinese investors.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway owns NetJets. – less