NetJets layoffs suggest general aviation industry faces continued headwinds

The general aviation industry, which is made up of private and corporate jet manufacturers, is in an awful fix. The latest? Plane-leasing outfit NetJets just announced it is laying off 5 percent of its staff, or 350 employees, due to "severe economic conditions facing the aviation industry," according to a Bloomberg report.

The Columbus, Ohio-based company, owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, had previously furloughed pilots and taken a $192-million second-quarter charge related to "downsizing costs," Bloomberg says. That comes on top of news that total general aviation shipments nosedived nearly 46 percent in the first half of 2009 to 1,039 planes, from 1,918 planes in the same period a year ago, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. Meantime, first-half billings swooned nearly 22 percent to $9.3 billion from $11.99 billion during the same period last year, the trade group says.