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September 2012 Passenger Airline Employment Down 0.6 Percent from September 2011

Release Number: 
BTS 56-12

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

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

Thursday, November 29, 2012 - U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 386,372 workers in September 2012, 0.6 percent less than in September 2011, the U.S. Department of Transportation's EmEdjimurjE (BTS) reported today. Scheduled passenger airline categories include network, low-cost, regional and other airlines. This was the first time since October 2010, a period of 22 months, that full-time equivalent (FTE) employee levels for U.S. scheduled passenger carriers have been lower than the same month of the previous year (Table 2).

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the September 2012 FTE total of 386,372 for scheduled passenger carriers, 2,269 fewer than in September 2011, is the lowest monthly total since June 2011 (Table 3).  Historical employment data can be found on the BTS web site.

The five network airlines that collectively employ two-thirds of the scheduled passenger airline FTEs reported 0.8 percent fewer FTEs in September, the second consecutive decline for the group. Delta Air Lines, eliminating positions following its merger with Northwest Airlines, reduced FTEs by 1.8 percent from September 2011. American Airlines, which filed for bankruptcy in November 2011, reduced FTEs by 4.4 percent. United Airlines reported a post-merger total of 82,137 FTEs in September 2012, 1,933 or 2.4 percent more FTEs than the 80,204 United and Continental Airlines reported separately in September 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 46,048 FTEs in September 2012 in a joint report following its merger with AirTran Airways. The combined total was 988 or 2.2 percent more than the 45,060 FTEs the two airlines reported separately in September 2011 (Table 12). Low-cost airlines operate under a low-cost business model, with infrastructure and aircraft operating costs below the overall industry average.

Among the 16 regional carriers, nine carriers reported reduced employment levels compared to last year: Colgan Airlines, ExpressJet Airlines, Mesa Airlines, Horizon Airlines, Republic Airlines, Comair, Pinnacle Airlines, SkyWest Airlines and Executive Airlines. The total number of FTEs reported by Pinnacle which recently merged with Mesaba Airlines was 24.4 percent fewer than the total number of FTEs reported individually by the two airlines prior to the merger (Table 15). Regional carriers typically provide service from small cities, using primarily regional jets to support the network carriers' hub and spoke systems.

Carrier Groups: The five network airlines employed 67.5 percent of the total number of FTEs employed by all scheduled passenger airlines in September, the six low-cost carriers employed 18.0 percent and the 16 regional carriers employed 13.2 percent (Table 4). The three airlines with the most FTEs in September United, Delta and American employed 57.2 percent of the total passenger airline FTEs (Table 6).

Top employers by group: The newly-merged United employed the most FTEs (82,137) in September among the network airlines, Southwest employed the most FTEs (46,048) among low-cost airlines, and American Eagle Airlines employed the most FTEs (10,082) 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 1,990 fewer FTEs in September 2012 than in September 2011. Three of the five network carriers increased FTEs from September 2011 to September 2012 (Tables 8, 9).

Five-Year Trend: The network airlines employed 7,769 fewer FTEs in September 2012 than in September 2008, a 2.9 percent decrease. American reported the biggest percentage decline in FTE employment from 2008 to 2012, 10.2 percent, followed by Alaska Airlines, down 6.2 percent. September 2008 and September 2012 numbers for United and Delta are not directly comparable because of the intervening mergers. United reported 0.5 percent fewer FTEs in September 2012 than United and Continental reported separately in September 2008; Delta reported 1.9 percent more FTEs in September 2012 than Delta and Northwest reported separately in September 2008 (Tables 8, 9).

LOW-COST AIRLINES

Recent Trend: The six low-cost airlines' FTEs were up 2.5 percent in September 2012 from September 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 11.3 percent more FTEs in September 2012 than in September 2008. Virgin America reported the largest percentage increase (108.7 percent), while Frontier reported a decline. September 2012 numbers for Southwest are not directly comparable to 2008 because of the intervening merger. Southwest reported 7.3 percent more FTEs in September 2012 than Southwest and AirTran reported separately in September 2008 (Table 12).

REGIONAL AIRLINES

Recent Trend: Regional airlines reported a 4.3 percent decrease in FTE employment in September 2012 compared to September 2011. GoJet Airlines and Shuttle America report the largest percentage increases in FTEs from September 2011 to September 2012 among airlines not involved in mergers. Comair and Colgan reported the largest percentage decreases. Atlantic Southeast Airlines and ExpressJet Airlines reported separately in September 2011, as did Pinnacle and Mesaba, while their reports were combined in September 2012 as a result of mergers (Table 15).

Five-Year Trend: The 16 regional carriers reporting employment data in both 2008 and 2012 employed 14.0 percent fewer FTEs in 2012 than in 2008. Comair reported the largest percentage decline followed by Colgan. GoJet reported the biggest four-year percentage gain. Effective with January 2011 reporting, Republic's 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 Oct. 17. Additional airline employment data can be found on the BTS website. BTS has scheduled release of October passenger airline employment data for December.

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 the previous year

Excel | CSV

MonthNetwork AirlinesLow-Cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesAll Passenger Airlines**
Sep 2010-Sep 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 20121.27.10.22.1
Apr 2011-Apr 20121.35.7-1.51.8
May 2011-May 20121.35.3-2.21.6
Jun 2011-Jun 20121.44.0-2.51.4
Jul 2011-Jul 20120.83.5-3.30.8
Aug 2011-Aug 2012-0.22.5-2.30.1
Sep 2011-Sep 2012-0.82.5-4.3-0.6

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 and Sun Country 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.

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-5.6-3.81.52.1
April-5.5-4.12.01.8
May-6.8-2.72.11.6
June-6.3-2.41.91.4
July-5.9-2.32.30.8
August-5.5-1.72.80.1
September-4.4-0.62.9-0.6
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

FTE numbers in thousands (000's)

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
March415.5392.1377.3382.8390.8-6.02.1
April415.4392.1376.2383.4390.2-6.11.8
May415.5387.4377.0385.0391.0-5.91.6
June414.4387.7378.3385.4390.9-5.71.4
July411.1386.8378.1386.8390.0-5.10.8
August406.7384.3377.8388.5389.0-4.40.1
September397.3379.9377.7388.6386.4-2.7-0.6
October394.2379.7378.1389.4   
November392.1379.4379.3389.4   
December391.8379.0379.7389.7   
12-Month Average407.6385.9378.1386.0   
Jan-Sep Average412.6388.0377.7384.8389.7-5.61.3

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.

R: Revised with updated filing by Mesa Airlines.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

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

FTE numbers in thousands (000's)

Excel | CSV

 NetworkLow-CostRegionalAll Passenger Airlines**
2008268.462.559.4397.3
2009254.962.456.0379.9
2010255.864.152.3377.7
2011262.667.953.4388.6
2012260.669.651.1386.4
Pct. Change 2008-2012-2.9%11.3%-14.0%-2.7%
Percent of Total Passenger Airline Employees in 201267.5%18.0%13.2% 

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.

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

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

Excel | CSV

 NetworkLow-CostRegionalAll Passenger Airlines**
2008-0.2-17.3-2.1-4.5
2009-5.0-0.1-5.7-4.4
20100.32.7-6.6-0.6
20112.75.92.02.9
2012-0.82.5-4.3-0.6

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.

TABLE 6: TOP 10 AIRLINES, SEPTEMBER 2012

FTE numbers in thousands (000's)

Excel | CSV

RankAirlineTotal FTE EmployeesCarrier Group**Top 10 Airlines September 2011
1United82.1NetworkDelta
2Delta75.5NetworkAmerican
3American63.4NetworkUnited
4Southwest46.0Low-CostSouthwest
5US Airways30.4NetworkContinental
6JetBlue12.5Low-CostUS Airways
7American Eagle10.1RegionalJetBlue
8Alaska9.2NetworkAmerican Eagle
9SkyWest9.2RegionalSkyWest
10ExpressJet9.1RegionalAlaska

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-6.7-3.11.51.2
April-6.5-3.61.81.3
May-8.2-1.92.11.3
June-7.8-1.61.61.4
July-7.1-1.62.10.8
August-6.4-0.92.7-0.2
September-5.00.32.7-0.8
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.

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

FTE numbers in thousands (000's)

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
May283.6260.5255.5260.8264.2-6.91.3
June282.8260.8256.6260.7264.3-6.51.4
July280.4260.5256.4261.8263.8-5.90.8
August276.1258.6256.1263.1262.4-5.0-0.2
September268.4254.9255.8262.6260.6-2.9-0.8
October266.6259.0255.9262.9   
November265.2258.1256.4263.1   
December264.7258.1256.8262.6   
12-Month Average276.7260.8256.4261.4   
Jan-Sep Average280.4261.5256.3260.9263.1-6.20.8

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

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

FTE numbers in thousands (000's)

Excel | CSV

RankAirline20082009201020112012Percent Change
2008-20122011-2012
1United***47.744.443.643.382.1N/AN/A
 Continental***34.833.432.636.9N/AN/AN/A
 UA/CO Combined82.677.776.180.282.1-0.52.4
2Delta**46.345.375.876.975.5N/A-1.8
 Northwest**27.824.6N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
 DL/NW Combined74.169.975.876.975.51.9-1.8
3American70.667.765.466.363.4-10.2-4.4
4US Airways31.330.229.430.330.4-2.90.3
5Alaska9.89.39.18.99.2-6.23.1
 Total268.4254.9255.8262.6260.6-2.9-0.8

Source: EmEdjimurjE

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

** Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines merged 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
May1.20.64.15.3
June0.80.95.04.0
July0.91.55.33.5
August-0.22.05.72.5
September-0.12.75.92.5
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**

FTE numbers in thousands (000's)

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
May62.863.563.966.670.111.55.3
June63.063.564.067.370.011.14.0
July62.563.064.067.469.811.73.5
August62.962.864.067.769.410.42.5
September62.562.464.167.969.611.32.5
October62.762.464.368.3   
November62.762.664.768.5   
December62.662.664.768.9   
12-Month Average63.162.964.067.0   
Jan-Sep Average63.263.063.966.569.610.24.7

Source: EmEdjimurjE

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

* 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.

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

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

Excel | CSV

Rank 20082009201020112012Percent Change
2008-20122011-2012
1Southwest**35,54534,80634,83637,12846,04829.524.0
 AirTran7,3727,7177,7427,932N/AN/AN/A
 WN/FL Combined42,91742,52342,57845,06046,0487.32.2
2JetBlue10,29810,77811,10011,96512,45020.94.1
3Frontier4,4794,2774,9764,9134,044-9.7-17.7
4Spirit2,3351,8692,1872,3712,81020.318.5
5Virgin America1,1761,4361,6552,0222,454108.721.4
6Allegiant1,2821,5191,6181,5451,76938.014.5
 Total62,48762,40264,11467,87669,57311.32.5

Source: EmEdjimurjE

* 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-4.9-10.11.80.2
April-7.4-9.32.1-1.5
May-7.7-8.01.6-2.2
June-7.2-7.71.5-2.5
July-6.9-7.51.9-3.3
August-6.8-7.22.1-2.3
September-5.7-6.62.0-4.3
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

FTE numbers in thousands (000's)

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
March60.257.351.552.552.6-12.70.2
April61.356.851.552.651.8-15.5-1.5
May61.456.652.152.951.7-15.7-2.2
June61.056.652.253.051.7-15.3-2.5
July60.756.552.253.251.5-15.2-3.3
August60.356.252.253.352.1-13.7-2.3
September59.456.052.353.451.1-14.0-4.3
October58.052.152.453.5   
November57.553.252.753.0   
December57.952.752.553.3   
12-Month Average59.955.852.253.0   
Jan-Sep Average60.756.852.152.952.0-14.3-1.7

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*, SEPTEMBER 2008- 2012

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

Excel | CSV

Rank 20082009201020112012Percent Change
2008-20122011-2012
1American Eagle9,4528,9999,35210,05610,0826.70.3
2SkyWest9,0768,5879,1039,3729,1661.0-2.2
3ExpressJet#6,3945,2415,3495,3999,09142.268.4
 Atlantic Southeast#4,4333,6223,6013,868N/AN/AN/A
 XE/EV Combined10,8278,8638,9509,2679,091-16.0-1.9
4Pinnacle**3,5803,3533,4493,6624,29019.817.1
 Mesaba**3,4533,7962,1512,014N/AN/AN/A
 9E/XJ Combined7,0337,1495,6005,6764,290-39.0-24.4
5Horizon3,5463,2282,8402,8562,727-23.1-4.5
6Air Wisconsin2,9332,5302,5412,5102,535-13.61.0
7Republic***1,3031,6752,0772,0832,01254.4-3.4
8Shuttle America1,0851,3941,3061,5841,85771.217.2
9Mesa2,9422,6082,1411,8991,650-43.9-13.1
10Comair5,7175,1352,5422,0411,493-73.9-26.8
11Executive1,6931,7651,7871,8031,331-21.4-26.2
12Chautauqua****N/AN/AN/AN/A1,284N/AN/A
13Compass7218799821,0221,11554.69.1
14PSA9919979991,0491,0738.32.3
15GoJet4055415705781,029154.178.0
16Colgan1,3331,2671,3601,568350-73.7-77.7
17Lynx##358395177N/AN/AN/AN/A
 Total59,41556,01252,32753,36451,082-14.0-4.3

Source: EmEdjimurjE

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

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

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

**** Effective July 2012 Chautauqua Airlines began reporting 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: Carriers 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.



 
Updated: Monday, November 27, 2017