2009 was a bad year for the aviation industry across the world as it was hit the hardest by the financial and economic crisis. Net Jets, the luxury air travel unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. owned by Warren Buffet was no exception and it accumulated staggering losses of $711 million during the year. Richard Santulli, the founder of the unit had to make way for the new CEO David Sokol.
Amongst the several initiatives taken by the new CEO to grow back the business the most prominent is the financing of their clients. They are making loans available to their commercial customers who had to give up their accounts due to the cash crunch and declining business. David Sokol also fired pilots and sold aircraft to cope with the slump in demand. NetJets seems to have turned the corner as they have returned to profit this year.
The analysts of the industry are still advising caution as they believe the market is not robust enough for a sustainable growth. The financing move by NetJets has prompted their rival Flight Options to offer a similar financing deal to their customers starting from the first quarter of 2011. There might still be air pockets ahead.