NetJets, the private jet company owned by Warren Buffett´s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate, is to make carbon offsetting compulsory for its customers.
The company will announce today that all new customers at its European operations will have the cost of offsetting their flights added to the bill. NetJets said the move will add about EUR 4,000 (GBP 2,720) to the cost of a NetJets customer a year.
Mark Booth, chairman of NetJets Europe, said he was confident the move would not damage sales. Asked if customers might be put off by the extra cost, he said: "I am sure there will be a few but I think this will add a lot of lustre to our brand. Our client base tends to be well-educated and sophisticated people. They have driven this initiative and should share a lot of the credit."
Mr Booth added that three of NetJets´ top five customers have signed up for the carbon offsetting scheme voluntarily. Existing customers who do not join the scheme immediately will be signed up to it when they renew their contracts.
The NetJets Europe boss pushed the environment strategy, which includes funding for a next-generation jet fuel project at Princeton University in the US, after meeting Professor Dan Esty, an environmental academic, at the Davos forum. "This is a unique programme that will set the bar for everyone else," said Prof Esty. NetJets will invest in carbon offsetting projects through EcoSecurities, an Oxford-based company. Carbon offsetting allows firms to invest in schemes such as tree planting that atone for the negative effects of the carbon dioxide they generate.
NetJets offers its 1,500 European customers a part-share in aircraft, which allows them 50 hours of flights per year, or they can acquire a NetJets card offering 25 hours of flights over two years. The company said the EUR 4,000 price increase would apply to its average aircraft part-owner customers.