Buffett Watch

Berkshire Hathaway's NetJets Furloughs 495 Pilots

Warren Buffett's NetJets is putting 495 of its 3200 pilots on furlough effective January 15, as the Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary continues to cut back in the face of a slowdown in private corporate air travel.

In a statement quoted by Bloomberg, CEO David Sokol says, “This difficult decision resulted from a comprehensive analysis of current and projected flight demand.  As we move forward, we will continue to adjust our operations to meet customers’ needs and act in a fiscally responsible manner."

Sokol, the Chairman of Berkshire's MidAmerican Energy Holdings, assumed the NetJets CEO job last August after founder Richard Santulli abruptly resigned.

In September, Columbus, Ohio-based NetJets announced plans to cut roughly 350 non-pilot jobs by the end of the year.

Columbia Business First notes that the pilot cutbacks are being described as "furloughs" in accordance with its contract with the pilots' union.

Company spokesman Ted Lowen tells the publication its not clear when NetJets might resume hiring.   "We’re doing the hard work now to get prepared for what we expect to be steady growth.  When that happens, no one can really tell."

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