Netjet Global on Tarmac

One-on-one with Patrick Gallagher

A conversation with NetJets’ President of Sales, Service and Marketing.

Patrick Gallagher, NetJets’ President of Sales, Service and Marketing
Patrick Gallagher, NetJets’ President of Sales, Service and Marketing

Even before a global pandemic brought the travel industry innumerable challenges, NetJets—the world’s largest private aviation company—has been quietly changing the way people think about flying. Since the mid-1980s, the Berkshire Hathaway company has sold ownership shares of its fleet, enabling busy executives to jet to crucial meetings or book family weekend escapes with as little as four hours’ notice. Time is incredibly valuable to any business leader, and those additional hours for landing a sale, negotiating a deal or spending quality time with loved ones are just what NetJets offers.

Along with speed and efficiency, simplicity of use is the hallmark of NetJets’ customer experience: Just use the NetJets app to book your flights, then get to the private airport terminal on time. Everything else—from onboard customs clearance to in-flight meals—is handled seamlessly.

Ownership share options are set at one quarter, one eighth, and one sixteenth of a particular aircraft. Members are guaranteed a specific number of flight hours on that aircraft (starting at 50), with a free upgrade from NetJets’ 750-plane fleet if their model isn’t available.

Shared ownership lets you “dial in your asset ownership to your specific need,” says Patrick Gallagher, NetJets’ President of Sales, Service and Marketing. A leasing option allows owners to pace their payments, while the company’s Marquis Card program lets businesses and individuals test the waters with just 25 hours of annual flight time.

With year-over-year sales up a decisive 150 percent between the entirety of 2019 and the first seven months of 2020, many of NetJets’ programs are resonating with a thoroughly modern generation of private aircraft users.

“People are now coming to the realization that the ultimate luxury is peace of mind. What seemed like an extravagance is now becoming more of a necessity,” says Gallagher.

Peace of mind means a variety of things to Net- Jets’ clientele. For corporations who depend on NetJets to get their executives where they need to be quickly, it’s the convenience of booking a Bombardier Challenger or Global business jet with nearly the same ease as booking an Uber. For many high-net-worth individuals, it’s the expedience of having NetJets manage their aircraft: “You’re turning over everything from pilot hiring and training to securing insurance, to conducting maintenance on the aircraft, to any mechanical issues that might arise, to the scheduling and dispatching of your airplane. Literally everything is left to NetJets,” says Gallagher.

Gallagher says NetJets’ fractional ownership model outclasses charters via consistency in aircraft and crew standards. “You don’t have to worry about the box of chocolates that is the charter industry, where you just never know what you’re going to get,” he adds.

Today, peace of mind also means avoiding COVID-era inconveniences such as reduced commercial airline schedules and filled-to-capacity planes. NetJets has responded to the health crisis by COVID-testing all crew members, ensuring adherence to mask-wearing and social distancing, investing $1 million per month on heightened cleaning and disinfecting protocols, and by reducing reliance on commercial aircraft to transport its crew to NetJets flight hubs.

While the world is a different place from what it was one year ago, having a private aircraft on demand remains the ultimate upgrade for business owners. Despite industry challenges, NetJets is optimistic about the future of private air travel, and of its Bombardier fleet. “We don’t buy airplanes unless we have customers signed up to buy shares in them,” says Gallagher: “So the number of Bombardier jets in our fleet speaks volumes as to how much the NetJets’ customer appreciates them.” 

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