An improved economy has led to an increase in business and private-aviation flights. As a result, Columbus-based NetJets plans to hire 187 pilots and as many as 50 flight attendants to meet this growing demand.
“Due to the strength of our business, . . . we were able to not only recall pilots who were furloughed in 2009 because of the economic downturn, but grow our business to the point where we can open the door for new team members as well,” NetJets Chief Operating Officer Bill Noe said in a statement.
NetJets doesn’t disclose revenue, but officials said the number of hours its planes were in the air rose 7 percent in 2014 after a 6 percent jump in 2013.
The company has about 2,600 pilots in the U.S., with 222 based in central Ohio. About 50 of its 256 flight attendants are based here.
“It’s hard to say where the new pilots will be based. Our pilots can live anywhere,” said NetJets spokeswoman Christine Herbert.
The company furloughed about 500 pilots in 2009. Since then, “We’ve recalled all the ones who were still available,” she said.
NetJets and its pilots union have been in talks for a new labor agreement since May 2013, and “ there’s nothing new to report,” Herbert said. The parties are operating under the terms of the expired contract.
Business aviation is on the upswing nationally, and NetJets was in a good position to take advantage, said one industry expert.
“The economy has been strong enough for long enough to justify more corporate flights and private aviation flights,” said Scott Liston, executive vice president of the consulting firm Argus International Inc.
Flight activity was up 3.7 percent in November compared with the previous year, according to Argus data. This was the 12th consecutive month of year-over-year growth.
“NetJets is regarded as a market leader,” Liston said. “That’s a result of their continuously updating their fleet and their commitment to safety and service.”
NetJets has a fleet of more than 700 jets worldwide and is in the midst of a 10-year plan to buy up to 670 aircraft for $17.6 billion to refresh its fleet.