Passenger Airline Employment

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February 2012 Passenger Airline Employment Rose 2.1 Percent from February 2011

Release Number: 
BTS 20-12

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

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

Friday, April 27, 2012 - U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 2.1 percent more workers in February 2012 than they did in February 2011, the U.S. Department of Transportations EmEdjimurjE (BTS) reported today. This is the 15th 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 February FTE total of 389,901 for the scheduled passenger carriers was 8,070 more than that of February 2011 (Table 3). The 2.1 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 1.2 percent from February 2011 to February 2012 but two airlines reported fewer FTEs. Delta Air Lines, which has been eliminating redundant positions following its merger with Northwest Airlines, reduced FTEs by 1.9 percent. American Airlines, which filed for bankruptcy in November, reduced FTEs by 0.9 percent. United Airlines reported 81,693 FTEs in February 2012 in a joint report following the merger with Continental Airlines. The combined report was 4,587 more FTEs or 5.9 percent more than the 77,106 FTEs the two airlines reported separately in February 2011 (Table 9).

Among the seven low-cost carriers, Allegiant Airlines, Virgin America Airlines, Spirit Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines reported an increase in FTEs. AirTran Airways and Frontier Airlines were the only low-cost carriers reporting fewer FTEs (Table 12).

Among the 15 regional carriers, the five carriers reporting reduced employment levels compared to last year were Horizon Airlines, Republic Airlines, Comair, Mesa Airlines and Executive Airlines (Table 15).

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

Carrier Groups: The five network airlines employed 67.4 percent of the scheduled passenger airline total in February, the seven low-cost carriers employed 17.8 percent and the 15 regional carriers employed 13.5 percent. The three airlines with the most FTEs in February United, Delta and American employed 57 percent of the total passenger airline FTEs. The 2011 to 2012 increases for all 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 in February among the network airlines, Southwest employed the most FTEs among low-cost airlines, and American Eagle Airlines employed the most FTEs among regional airlines. Four of the top five employers in the industry are network airlines (Table 6).

Southwest employed 37,814 fewer workers than Delta in February despite carrying the most passengers, according to the BTS January air traffic press release. Delta, which carried the second-most passengers, likely had more FTEs because of its large number of international flights.

NETWORK AIRLINES

Recent Trend: The network airlines employed 3,243 more FTEs in February 2012 than in February 2011. Two of the four network carriers increased FTEs from February 2011 to February 2012. February 2012 numbers for United are not comparable to 2011 because of the intervening merger (Table 9).

Five-Year Trend: The network airlines employed 19,839 fewer FTEs in February 2012 than in February 2008. American Airlines reported the biggest percentage decline in FTE employment from 2008 to 2012, down 10.6 percent, followed by Alaska Airlines down 9.4 percent. February 2012 numbers for United and Delta are not directly comparable to 2008 because of the intervening mergers. United reported 8.0 percent fewer FTEs than United and Continental reported separately in February 2008 and Delta and Northwest reported 2.1 percent fewer (Tables 8, 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.

LOW-COST AIRLINES

Recent Trend: The seven low-cost airlines FTEs were up 6.4 percent in February 2012 from February 2011. All low-cost airlines except AirTran and Frontier reported year-to-year increases (Table 12).

Five-Year Trend: The seven low-cost carriers reporting employment data in both 2008 and 2012 employed 11.5 percent more FTEs in February 2012 than in February 2008. Virgin America reported the largest percentage increase, up 178.4 percent but Frontier and AirTran reported declines (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.

REGIONAL AIRLINES

Recent Trend: The regional airlines FTEs were up 0.8 percent in February 2012 compared to February 2011. GoJet Airlines and Shuttle America report the largest percentage increases in FTEs from February 2011 to February 2012 among airlines not involved in mergers. Comair and Executive reported the largest percentage decreases. Atlantic Southeast Airlines and ExpressJet Airlines reported separately in February 2011 as did Pinnacle Airlines and Mesaba Airlines while their reports were combined in February 2012 (Table 15).

Five-Year Trend: The 14 regional carriers reporting employment data in both 2008 and 2012 employed 0.5 percent fewer FTEs in 2012 than in 2008. Comair reported the largest percentage decline followed by Horizon and Mesa. Compass 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).

Regional carriers typically provide service from small cities, using primarily regional jets to support the network carriers hub and spoke systems.

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 April 19. Additional  can be found on the BTS website. BTS has scheduled release of March 2012 passenger airline employment data for May 29.

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**
Feb. 2010-Feb. 20111.12.30.91.0
Mar. 2010-Mar. 20111.52.31.81.5
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

Source: EmEdjimurjE

* 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-5.6-3.81.5 
April-5.5-4.12.0 
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: EmEdjimurjE

* 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
March415.5392.1377.3382.8   
April415.4392.1376.2383.4   
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-Feb Average418.9391.1378.7381.4389.3-7.02.1

Source: EmEdjimurjE

* 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*, FEBRUARY 2008-2012

FTE numbers in thousands (000s)

Excel | CSV

 NetworkLow-CostRegionalAll Passenger Airlines**
2008282.664.960.5419.0
2009264.663.057.6391.6
2010256.863.852.0378.0
2011259.565.352.4381.8
2012262.869.552.8389.9
Pct. Change 2008-2012-7.0%7.0%-12.7%-6.9%
Percent of Total Passenger Airline Employees in 201267.4%17.8%13.5% 

Source: EmEdjimurjE

* 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*, FEBRUARY 2008-2012

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

Excel | CSV

 NetworkLow-CostRegionalAll Passenger Airlines**
20087.7-10.21.13.2
2009-6.4-3.0-4.9-6.5
2010-3.01.4-9.8-3.5
20111.12.30.91.0
20121.26.40.82.1

Source: EmEdjimurjE

* 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, FEBRUARY 2012

Ranked by Number of Full-Time Equivalent Employees*

FTE Numbers in thousands (000s)

Excel | CSV

RankAirlineTotal FTE EmployeesCarrier Group**Top 10 Airlines February 2011
1United81.7NetworkDelta
2Delta76.3NetworkAmerican
3American65.4NetworkUnited
4Southwest38.5Low-CostSouthwest
5US Airways30.4NetworkContinental
6JetBlue12.5Low-CostUS Airways
7American Eagle9.9RegionalJetBlue
8ExpressJet9.4RegionalAmerican Eagle
9SkyWest9.4RegionalSkyWest
10Alaska9.0NetworkAlaska

Source: EmEdjimurjE

* 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-6.7-3.11.5 
April-6.5-3.61.8 
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: EmEdjimurjE

* 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
March283.9264.8256.5260.5   
April283.7265.2255.7260.3   
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-Feb Average282.2264.2257.3259.1262.7-6.91.4

Source: EmEdjimurjE

* 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*, FEBRUARY 2008-2012

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

Numbers in thousands (000s)

Excel | CSV

RankAirline20082009201020112012Percent Change     
2008-20122011-2012
1United***52.445.843.743.681.7N/AN/A
 Continental***36.335.033.133.5N/A  
 UA/CO Combined88.880.876.877.181.7-8.05.9
2Delta**48.545.374.677.876.3N/A-1.9
 Northwest**29.427.8N/AN/AN/A  
 DL/NW Combined77.973.274.677.876.3-2.1-1.9
3American73.269.966.566.065.4-10.6-0.9
4US Airways32.831.229.529.730.4-7.42.3
5Alaska9.99.59.28.99.0-9.41.2
 Total282.6264.6256.8259.5262.8-7.01.2

Source: EmEdjimurjE

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
March0.11.22.3 
April1.20.54.0 
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: EmEdjimurjE

* 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**62.963.063.865.3   
April***62.563.363.666.1   
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-Feb Average64.862.863.765.269.16.56.0

Source: EmEdjimurjE

* 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,* FEBRUARY 2008-2012**

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

Excel | CSV

Rank 20082009201020112012Percent Change**    
2008-20122011-2012
1Southwest34,07035,54334,73035,35738,46812.98.8
2JetBlue10,44610,53911,20111,45812,45919.38.7
3AirTran8,1117,8427,8337,9147,458-8.1-5.8
4Frontier5,2554,4055,0614,9044,508-14.2-8.1
5Spirit2,3701,8891,9512,2432,63011.017.3
6Virgin America8281,3441,5101,8282,305178.426.1
7Allegiant1,2201,3981,5601,6191,64835.11.8
8SkyBus***448N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
9ATA****2,189N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
 Total64,93562,95863,84565,32169,47311.56.4

Source: EmEdjimurjE

* 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 seven carriers reporting in both years.

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

**** ATA Airlines ceased operating on April 3, 2008 and stopped reporting employment data effective in March. N/A: Carrier did not meet the standard for filing, was no longer operating, merged with another operating carrier or failed to file. See previous notes.

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 
April-7.4-9.32.1 
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: EmEdjimurjE

* 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
March60.257.351.552.5   
April61.356.851.552.6   
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-Feb Average60.857.552.252.652.8-13.20.4

Source: EmEdjimurjE

* 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*, FEBRUARY 2008- 2012

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

Excel | CSV

Rank 20082009201020112012Percent Change**     
2008-20122011-2012
1American Eagle9,7049,2149,0449,5489,9482.54.2
2ExpressJet#7,6225,2645,3445,2159,442N/AN/A
3SkyWest10,1519,0188,9459,1289,387-7.52.8
4Pinnacle***3,5953,6103,2773,4485,08841.547.6
5Horizon3,7423,3953,1492,8852,824-24.5-2.1
6Air Wisconsin2,1442,5842,4952,5852,60021.30.6
7Republic****6901,4771,9252,1461,977N/A-7.9
8Shuttle America1,0721,3131,2521,3061,81168.938.7
9Mesa2,9372,8512,3281,9901,808-38.4-9.1
10ColganN/A1,2731,2231,5141,722N/A13.7
11Comair6,0355,2132,5712,3121,705-71.7-26.3
12Executive1,7401,6771,8031,8841,622-6.8-13.9
13Compass4118049498921,076161.820.6
14PSA1,1739809549891,056-10.06.8
15GoJet370480545569769107.835.1
16Atlantic Southeast#4,4584,2093,5573,732N/AN/AN/A
17Mesaba***3,0913,8482,2042,176N/AN/AN/A
18Lynx##30137439094N/AN/AN/A
19Trans States###1,314N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
 Total60,54757,58151,95252,40952,831-0.50.8

Source: EmEdjimurjE

* 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.

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

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

### Effective with April 2008 reporting, Trans States Airlines no longer met the reporting requirements for filing monthly airline employment data.

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: Saturday, November 25, 2017
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