Passenger Airline Employment

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April 2012 Passenger Airline Employment Rose 1.3 Percent from April 2011

Release Number: 
BTS 31-12

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Table Version | Excel | CSVScheduled Passenger Airline Full-Time Equivalent Employees, Month of April, 1990-2012

Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-Time Equivalent Employees, Month of April, 1990-2012

Friday, June 29, 2012 - U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 1.3 percent more workers in April 2012 than they did in April 2011, the U.S. Department of Transportations Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. This is the 17th consecutive month that full-time equivalent employee (FTE) levels for the scheduled passenger carriers have been higher than the same month of the previous year (Tables 12). FTE calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the April FTE total of 388,500 for the scheduled passenger carriers was 5,089 more than that of April 2011 (Table 3). The 1.3 percent year-to-year growth rate, although down from the growth rate in the last half of 2011, still reflects the gradual improvement in the industrys employment following declines that began in July 2008 (Table 2).  can be found on the BTS web site.

The five network airlines increased employment by 1.3 percent from April 2011 to April 2012 but two of the five reported fewer FTEs. Delta Air Lines, eliminating redundant positions following its merger with Northwest Airlines, reduced FTEs by 1.8 percent. American Airlines, which filed for bankruptcy in November, reduced FTEs by 1.7 percent. United Airlines reported 82,300 FTEs in April 2012 in a joint report following the merger with Continental Airlines. The combined report was 5,338 more FTEs or 6.9 percent more than the 76,962 FTEs the two airlines reported separately in April 2011 (Table 9). Network airlines operate a significant portion of flights using at least one hub where connections are made for flights to down-line destinations or spoke cities.

Among the six low-cost carriers, Allegiant Airlines, Virgin America Airlines, Spirit Airlines and JetBlue Airways reported an increase in FTEs. Frontier Airlines was the only low-cost carrier reporting fewer FTEs. Southwest Airlines reported 46,124 FTEs in April 2012 in a joint report following its merger with AirTran Airways. The combined report was 2,417 more FTEs or 5.5 percent more than the 43,707 FTEs the two airlines reported separately in April 2011 (Table 12). Low-cost airlines are those that the industry recognizes as operating under a low-cost business model, with lower infrastructure and aircraft operating costs.

Among the 14 regional carriers, the five carriers reporting reduced employment levels compared to last year were Colgan Airlines, Horizon Airlines, Republic Airlines, Comair and Executive Airlines (Table 15). Regional carriers typically provide service from small cities, using primarily regional jets to support the network carriers hub and spoke systems.

Scheduled passenger airline categories include network, low-cost, regional and other airlines.

Carrier Groups: The five network airlines employed 67.9 percent of the scheduled passenger airline total in April, the six low-cost carriers employed 18.0 percent and the 14 regional carriers employed 12.9 percent. The three airlines with the most FTEs in April United, Delta and American employed 57.7 percent of the total passenger airline FTEs. The 2011 to 2012 increases for the network and low-cost carrier groups result from the relatively consistent profits for most of the industry (Table 4).

Top employers by group: The newly-merged United employed the most FTEs (82,300) in April among the network airlines, Southwest employed the most FTEs (46,124) among low-cost airlines, and American Eagle Airlines employed the most FTEs (9,772) among regional airlines. Four of the top five employers in the industry are network airlines (Table 6).

NETWORK AIRLINES

Recent Trend: The network airlines employed 3,319 more FTEs in April 2012 than in April 2011. Three of the five network carriers increased FTEs from April 2011 to April 2012 (Tables 8, 9).

Five-Year Trend: The network airlines employed 20,019 fewer FTEs in April 2012 than in April 2008. American reported the biggest percentage decline in FTE employment from 2008 to 2012, down 10.6 percent, followed by Alaska Airlines down 10.2 percent. April 2012 numbers for United and Delta are not directly comparable to 2008 because of the intervening mergers. United reported 7.9 percent fewer FTEs in April 2012 than United and Continental reported separately in April 2008; Delta reported 2.0 percent fewer FTEs in April 2012 than Delta and Northwest reported separately in April 2008 (Tables 8, 9).

LOW-COST AIRLINES

Recent Trend: The six low-cost airlines FTEs were up 5.7 percent in April 2012 from April 2011. All low-cost airlines except Frontier reported year-to-year increases (Table 12).

Five-Year Trend: The six low-cost carriers reporting employment data in both 2008 and 2012 employed 11.7 percent more FTEs in April 2012 than in April 2008. Virgin America reported the largest percentage increase, up 202.5 percent but Frontier reported a decline. April 2012 numbers for Southwest are not directly comparable to 2008 because of the intervening merger. Southwest reported 9.1 percent more FTEs in April 2012 than Southwest and AirTran reported separately in April 2008 (Table 12).

REGIONAL AIRLINES

Recent Trend: The regional airlines FTEs were down 4.8 percent in April 2012 compared to April 2011. GoJet Airlines and Shuttle America report the largest percentage increases in FTEs from April 2011 to April 2012 among airlines not involved in mergers. Comair and Pinnacle/Mesaba reported the largest percentage decreases. Atlantic Southeast Airlines and ExpressJet Airlines reported separately in April 2011 as did Pinnacle Airlines and Mesaba Airlines while their reports were combined in April 2012 (Table 15).

Five-Year Trend: The 14 regional carriers reporting employment data in both 2008 and 2012 employed 13.8 percent fewer FTEs in 2012 than in 2008. Comair reported the largest percentage decline followed by Pinnacle/Mesaba. GoJet Airlines reported the biggest four-year percentage gain. Effective with January 2011 reporting, Republics employment numbers include FTEs from Midwest Airlines. Midwest employment data were formerly included in the "Other Airlines" category (Table 15).

REPORTING NOTES

Airlines that operate at least one aircraft with the capacity to carry combined passengers, cargo and fuel of 18,000 pounds the payload factor must report monthly employment statistics.

The Other Carrier category generally reflects those airlines that operate within specific niche markets such as Hawaiian Airlines serving the Hawaiian Islands.

Data are compiled from monthly reports filed with BTS by commercial air carriers as of June 13. Additional  can be found on the BTS website. BTS has scheduled release of May 2012 passenger airline employment data for July 25.

TABLE 1: CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR IN SCHEDULED PASSENGER AIRLINE FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT EMPLOYEES* BY AIRLINE GROUP

Most recent 13 months - Percent Change compared to same month of the previous year

Excel | CSV

MonthNetwork AirlinesLow-Cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesAll Passenger Airlines**
Apr. 2010-Apr. 20111.84.02.11.9
May 2010-May 20112.14.11.62.1
June 2010-June 20111.65.01.51.9
July 2010-July 20112.15.31.92.3
Aug. 2010-Aug. 20112.75.72.12.8
Sept. 2010-Sept. 20112.75.92.02.9
Oct. 2010-Oct. 20112.76.22.13.0
Nov. 2010-Nov. 20112.65.90.62.6
Dec. 2010-Dec. 20112.36.51.52.7
Jan. 2011-Jan. 20121.55.70.12.1
Feb. 2011-Feb. 20121.26.40.92.1
Mar. 2011-Mar. 20121.27.1-3.11.6
Apr. 2011-Apr. 20121.35.7-4.81.3

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

** Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers. Other Carriers generally operate within specific niche markets. They are: Hawaiian Airlines, Sun Country Airlines and USA3000 Airlines.

Note: Percent Changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Note: See Table 2 for all passenger airlines, Table 7 for Network, Table 10 for Low-Cost and Table 13 for Regional airlines.

TABLE 2: CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR IN SCHEDULED PASSENGER AIRLINE* FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT EMPLOYEES**

Percent Change compared to same month the previous year

Excel | CSV

Month2009201020112012
January-6.7-2.90.42.1
February-6.6-3.51.02.1
March-5.6-3.81.51.6
April-5.5-4.12.01.3
May-6.8-2.72.1 
June-6.3-2.41.9 
July-5.9-2.32.4 
August-5.5-1.72.8 
September-4.4-0.62.9 
October-3.7-0.43.0 
November-3.30.02.6 
December-3.30.22.7 

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers.

** Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

Note: Percent Changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

TABLE 3: SCHEDULED PASSENGER AIRLINE* FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT EMPLOYEES** BY MONTH

Numbers in thousands (000s)

Excel | CSV

Month20082009201020112012Percent Change
2008-20122011-2012
January418.7390.6379.4380.9388.8-7.12.1
February419.0391.6378.0381.8389.9-6.92.1
March415.5392.1377.3382.8389.0-6.41.6
April415.4392.1376.2383.4388.5-6.51.3
May415.5387.4377.0384.7   
June414.4387.7378.3385.4   
July411.1386.8378.1386.8   
August406.7384.3377.8388.5   
September397.3379.9377.7388.6   
October394.2379.7378.1389.4   
November392.1379.4379.3389.4   
December391.8379.0379.7389.7   
12-Month Average407.6385.9378.1386.0   
Jan-Apr Average417.2391.6377.7382.2389.0-6.71.8

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers.

** Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

Note: Percent Changes and averages based on numbers prior to rounding.

TABLE 4: AIRLINE GROUP FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT EMPLOYEES*, APRIL 2008-2012

FTE numbers in thousands (000s)

Excel | CSV

 NetworkLow-CostRegionalAll Passenger Airlines**
2008283.762.561.3415.4
2009265.263.356.8392.1
2010255.763.651.5376.2
2011260.366.152.6383.4
2012263.769.950.1388.5
Pct. Change 2008-2012-7.1%11.7%-18.4%-6.5%
Percent of Total Passenger Airline Employees in 201267.9%18.0%12.9% 

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

** Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers.

Note: Percent Changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

TABLE 5: YEAR-TO-YEAR CHANGE IN AIRLINE GROUP FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT EMPLOYEES*, APRIL 2008-2012

Percent Change in FTEs from the same month of the previous year

Excel | CSV

 NetworkLow-CostRegionalAll Passenger Airlines**
20087.1-15.22.01.3
2009-6.51.2-7.4-5.6
2010-3.60.5-9.3-4.1
20111.84.02.11.9
20121.35.7-4.81.3

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

** Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers.

Note: Percent Changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

TABLE 6: TOP 10 AIRLINES, APRIL 2012

Ranked by Number of Full-Time Equivalent Employees*

FTE Numbers in thousands (000s)

Excel | CSV

RankAirlineTotal FTE EmployeesCarrier Group**Top 10 Airlines April 2011
1United82.3NetworkDelta
2Delta76.7NetworkAmerican
3American65.3NetworkUnited
4Southwest46.1Low-CostSouthwest
5US Airways30.4NetworkContinental
6JetBlue12.6Low-CostUS Airways
7American Eagle9.8RegionalJetBlue
8ExpressJet9.4RegionalAmerican Eagle
9SkyWest9.3RegionalSkyWest
10Alaska9.0NetworkAlaska

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

** See Table 9 for Network, Table 12 for Low-Cost and Table 15 for Regional

TABLE 7: NETWORK AIRLINES - YEAR-TO-YEAR CHANGE IN FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT EMPLOYEES* FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR

Percent Change compared to same month the previous year

Excel | CSV

 2009201020112012
January-6.3-2.30.31.5
February-6.4-3.01.11.2
March-6.7-3.11.51.2
April-6.5-3.61.81.3
May-8.2-1.92.1 
June-7.8-1.61.6 
July-7.1-1.62.1 
August-6.4-0.92.7 
September-5.00.32.7 
October-2.8-1.22.7 
November-2.7-0.72.6 
December-2.5-0.52.3 

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

Note: Percent Changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

TABLE 8: NETWORK AIRLINES FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT EMPLOYEES* BY MONTH**

Numbers in thousands (000s)

Excel | CSV

Month20082009201020112012Percent Change
2008-20122011-2012
January281.7263.9257.8258.7262.6-6.81.5
February282.6264.6256.8259.5262.8-7.01.2
March283.9264.8256.5260.5263.5-7.21.2
April283.7265.2255.7260.3263.7-7.11.3
May283.6260.5255.5260.8   
June282.8260.8256.6260.7   
July280.4260.5256.4261.7   
August276.1258.6256.1263.1   
September268.4254.9255.8262.6   
October266.6259.0255.9262.9   
November265.2258.1256.4263.1   
December264.7258.1256.8262.6   
12-Month Average276.7260.8256.4261.4   
Jan-Apr Average283.0264.6256.7259.7263.1-7.01.3

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

TABLE 9: BY NETWORK AIRLINE: FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT EMPLOYEES*, APRIL 2008-2012

(FTEs for April of each year. Ranked by April 2012 FTEs)

Numbers in thousands (000s)

Excel | CSV

RankAirline20082009201020112012Percent Change     
2008-20122011-2012
1United***52.745.843.743.582.3N/AN/A
 Continental***36.735.232.733.5N/AN/AN/A
 UA/CO Combined89.481.076.477.082.3-7.96.9
2Delta**48.945.374.778.176.7N/A-1.8
 Northwest**29.328.3N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
 DL/NW Combined78.273.674.778.176.7-2.0-1.8
3American73.169.965.966.465.3-10.6-1.7
4US Airways33.031.229.530.030.4-7.91.4
5Alaska10.19.59.28.99.0-10.21.5
 Total283.7265.2255.7260.3263.7-7.11.3

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Note: Detail may not add to total due to rounding

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

** Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines completed their merger and began reporting combined numbers in January 2010

*** United Airlines and Continental Airlines merged and began reporting combined numbers in January 2012.

Note: Percent Changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

TABLE 10: LOW-COST AIRLINES - YEAR-TO-YEAR CHANGE IN FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT EMPLOYEES* FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR

Percent Change compared to same month the previous year

Excel | CSV

Month2009201020112012
January-3.11.42.25.7
February-3.01.42.36.4
March0.11.22.37.1
April1.20.54.05.7
May1.20.64.1 
June0.80.95.0 
July0.91.55.3 
August-0.22.05.7 
September-0.12.75.9 
October-0.43.06.2 
November-0.13.25.9 
December0.03.36.6 

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

Note: Percent Changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

TABLE 11: LOW-COST AIRLINES FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT EMPLOYEES* BY MONTH**

Numbers in thousands (000s)

Excel | CSV

 20082009201020112012Percent Change
2008-20122011-2012
January64.762.763.665.068.76.15.7
February64.963.063.865.369.57.06.4
March**62.963.063.865.369.911.07.1
April***62.563.363.666.169.911.45.7
May62.863.563.966.6   
June63.063.564.067.3   
July62.563.064.067.4   
August62.962.864.067.7   
September62.562.464.167.9   
October62.762.464.368.3   
November62.762.664.768.5   
December62.662.664.768.9   
12-Month Average63.162.964.067.0   
Jan-Apr Average63.863.063.765.469.58.96.2

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

** ATA Airlines ceased operations on April 3, 2008 and stopped reporting employment data effective in March.

***SkyBus stopped reporting employment data effective in April 2008 resulting from its bankruptcy filing.

Note: Percent Changes and averages based on numbers prior to rounding.

TABLE 12: BY LOW-COST CARRIER: FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT EMPLOYEES,* APRIL 2008-2012**

(FTEs for April of each year. Ranked by April 2012 FTEs)

Excel | CSV

Rank 20082009201020112012Percent Change
2008-20122011-2012
1Southwest**34,05735,44034,57235,64446,124N/AN/A
 AirTran8,2107,8807,7798,063N/AN/AN/A
 WN/FL Combined42,26743,32042,35143,70746,1249.15.5
2JetBlue10,63510,76311,20011,74512,59418.47.2
3Frontier5,0904,4134,9204,9294,331-14.9-12.1
4Spirit2,4491,8991,9512,2812,6929.918.0
5Virgin America7911,4281,5271,8422,393202.529.9
6Allegiant1,3081,4541,6231,6131,72832.17.1
 Total62,53763,27563,57166,11469,86111.75.7

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

** Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways merged and began reporting combined numbers in April 2012.

Note: Percent Changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

TABLE 13: REGIONAL AIRLINES - YEAR-TO-YEAR CHANGE IN FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT EMPLOYEES* FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR

Percent Change compared to same month the previous year

Excel | CSV

Month2009201020112012
January-6.0-8.50.40.1
February-4.9-9.80.90.8
March-4.9-10.11.8-3.1
April-7.4-9.32.1-4.8
May-7.7-8.01.6 
June-7.2-7.71.5 
July-6.9-7.51.9 
August-6.8-7.22.1 
September-5.7-6.62.0 
October-10.10.52.1 
November-7.5-1.00.6 
December-8.9-0.31.5 

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

Note: Percent Changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

TABLE 14: REGIONAL AIRLINES FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT EMPLOYEES* BY MONTH

Numbers in thousands (000s)

Excel | CSV

 2008**2009201020112012Percent Change
2008-20122011-2012
January61.157.452.552.852.8-13.60.1
February60.557.652.052.452.8-12.70.8
March60.257.351.552.550.8-15.6-3.1
April61.356.851.552.650.1-18.4-4.8
May61.456.652.152.9   
June61.056.652.253.0   
July60.756.552.253.2   
August60.356.252.253.3   
September59.456.052.353.4   
October58.052.152.453.5   
November57.553.252.753.0   
December57.952.752.553.3   
12-Month Average59.955.852.253.0   
Jan-Apr Average60.857.351.952.651.6-15.1-1.8

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

** Lynx Airlines began reporting in February 2008. Colgan Airlines began reporting in April 2008. Trans States Airlines no longer met reporting requirements beginning in April 2008.

Note: Percent Changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

TABLE 15: BY REGIONAL AIRLINE: FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT EMPLOYEES*, APRIL 2008- 2012

(FTEs for April of each year. Ranked by April 2012 FTEs)

Excel | CSV

Rank 20082009201020112012Percent Change**
2008-20122011-2012
1American Eagle9,7099,1749,1089,6909,7720.60.8
2ExpressJet#7,4205,2575,5465,1749,448N/AN/A
 Atlantic Southeast#4,5104,0263,5993,756N/AN/AN/A
 XE/EV Combined11,9309,2839,1458,9309,448-20.85.8
3SkyWest9,6988,7908,8499,1769,307-4.01.4
4Pinnacle***3,4843,4603,2783,5234,681N/AN/A
 Mesaba***3,1563,8712,1942,163N/AN/AN/A
 9E/XJ Combined6,6407,3315,4725,6864,681-29.5-17.7
5Horizon3,7773,3303,0382,8362,817-25.4-0.7
6Air Wisconsin2,6712,6072,5282,5712,623-1.82.0
7Shuttle America1,1471,2821,3001,4021,89565.235.2
8Republic****1,4771,4322,0492,1961,87927.2-14.4
9Comair5,9915,1022,5052,2231,600-73.3-28.0
10Executive1,7211,7311,3261,8641,543-10.3-17.2
11Colgan1,3061,2711,2601,5581,52216.5-2.3
12Compass5008059519311,071114.215.0
13PSA1,1539799719911,051-8.86.1
14GoJet359478577586861139.846.9
15Mesa*****2,9142,7972,1761,961N/AN/AN/A
16Lynx##344390250N/AN/AN/AN/A
 Total61,33356,77851,50252,59650,068-13.8-4.8

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

** The Percent Change 2008-2012 is based on the 15 carriers reporting in both years.

*** Pinnacle Airlines and Mesaba Airlines began reporting combined numbers in January 2012.

**** Effective with January 2009 reporting, Republic Airlines' employment numbers include FTE's from Midwest Airlines. Midwest employment data were formerly included in the "Other Airlines" category.

***** Mesa Airlines has not yet filed its April 2012 employment data.

# ExpressJet Airlines and Atlantic Southeast Airlines began reporting combined numbers in January 2012.

## Effective the end of March 2011, Lynx Airlines ceased operations.

N/A: Not applicable because carriers did not meet the standard for filing.

Note: Detail may not add to total due to rounding.

Note: Percent Changes based on numbers prior to rounding.



 
Updated: Monday, November 27, 2017