Passenger Airline Employment

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March 2014 Passenger Airline Employment Data

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Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-Time Equivalent Employees,
Month of March, 1990-2014

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Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-Time Equivalent Employees,  Month of March, 1990-2014

U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 383,610 workers in March 2014, 0.8 percent more than in March 2013, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. March was the fourth consecutive month that full-time equivalent (FTE) employment for U.S. scheduled passenger carriers was higher than the same month of the previous year (Tables 1, 2, 3).

The March 2014 FTE total for scheduled passenger carriers was 3,070 more than in March 2013 and the highest monthly total since October 2012 (Table 3). Scheduled passenger airline categories include network, low-cost, regional and other airlines.  can be found on the BTS web site.

The five network airlines that collectively employ two-thirds of the scheduled passenger airline FTEs reported 0.6 percent more FTEs in March 2014 than in March 2013 (Table 7). US Airways, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines increased FTEs from March 2013 while United Airlines reduced FTEs (Table 9). Network airlines operate a significant portion of their flights using at least one hub where connections are made for flights to down-line destinations or spoke cities.

Of the six low-cost carriers, four - Allegiant Airlines, Spirit Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Virgin America - reported an increase in FTEs from March 2013 while two - Frontier Airlines and Southwest Airlines - reported a decline (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 13 regional carriers, four carriers reported reduced employment levels in March compared to the previous year: Endeavor Airlines, Chautauqua Airlines, American Eagle Airlines and Shuttle America. The others reported increases (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 66.8 percent of the total number of FTEs employed by all scheduled passenger airlines in March, the six low-cost carriers employed 18.3 percent and the 13 regional carriers employed 13.2 percent (Table 4). The three airlines with the most FTEs in March – United, Delta and American – employed 56.1 percent of the month’s total passenger airline FTEs (Tables 3, 6). These three airlines carried 40.1 percent of total passengers traveling on U.S. airlines in February, the most recent month available. See Air Traffic press releases.

Top employers by group: United employed the most FTEs (80,694) in March among the network airlines, Southwest employed the most FTEs (45,163) among low-cost airlines, and American Eagle employed the most FTEs (10,865) among regional airlines. Four of the top five employers in the industry are network airlines (Table 6).

Airline Mergers: Airlines that announce mergers typically begin joint reporting following U.S. Department of Transportation approval and issuance of a single economic certificate.  Southwest and AirTran Airways began joint reporting of their financial data, including employment numbers, in April 2012 under a waiver granted by the Department, while reporting the rest of their data as separate carriers. American and US Airways, following their December 2013 merger announcement, will report separately until the Department approves single carrier reporting and a single economic certificate is issued.

In March 2014 (for January 2014 data), the Department began displaying combined on-time performance data, mishandled baggage data, oversales data and complaint data in its for Southwest and Air Tran as well as for American and U.S. Airways because both sets of airlines are sufficiently integrated that consumers perceive them as a single airline. The Air Travel Consumer Report also continues to display the separate performance of each of these airlines and will continue to do so until a single economic certificate is issued.

Network Airlines
Recent Changes: The network airlines employed 1,471 more FTEs in March 2014 than in March 2013, a 0.6 percent increase. Four of the five network carriers reported an FTE increase from March 2013 while United reported a decrease (Tables 8, 9).

Longer-term Changes: The network airlines employed 162 fewer FTEs in March 2014 than in March 2010, a 0.1 percent decrease. American (-9.6 percent) and Delta (-0.3) reported a decrease in FTE employment from 2010 to 2014 while US Airways (7.5 percent) and Alaska (4.7) reported increases. United’s numbers for the two years are not directly comparable because of the intervening merger. United reported 4.9 percent more FTEs in March 2014 than United and Continental Airlines reported separately in March 2010 (Tables 8, 9).

Low-Cost Airlines
Recent Changes: The six low-cost airlines reported 0.8 percent more FTEs as a group from March 2013 to March 2014. Frontier and Southwest reported year-to-year decreases while the remaining four airlines reported increases (Table 12).

Longer-term Changes: The low-cost carriers employed 6,601 more FTEs in March 2014 than in March 2010, a 10.3 percent increase. Spirit reported the largest percentage increase, 76.3 percent, while Frontier was the only low-cost carrier to report a decline, 29.4 percent. March 2014 numbers for Southwest are not directly comparable to 2010 because of the intervening merger. Southwest reported 6.4 percent more FTEs in March 2014 than Southwest and AirTran reported separately in March 2010 (Table 12).

Regional Airlines
Recent Changes: Regional airlines reported a 1.0 percent increase in FTE employment in March 2014 compared to March 2013; one regional airline discontinued service since a year ago. Mesa Airlines and PSA Airlines reported the largest percentage increases in FTEs from March 2013 to March 2014. Endeavor and Chautauqua reported the largest percentage decreases (Table 15).

Longer-term Changes: The 13 regional carriers operating in March employed 1.7 percent fewer FTEs in 2014 than the 18 carriers operating in March 2010.  Mesa reported the largest percentage decline followed by Horizon Air. GoJet Airlines reported the biggest four-year percentage gain. The ExpressJet/Atlantic Southeast combination reported 2.7 percent more FTE’s in March 2014 than the two airlines reported separately in March 2010. The Endeavor/Mesaba combination reported 29.2 percent fewer FTE’s in March 2014 than the two airlines reported separately in March 2010 (Table 15).

Endeavor operated as Pinnacle prior to August 2013. 

Reporting Notes

Airlines that operate at least one aircraft that has more than 60 seats or the capacity to carry a payload of passengers, cargo and fuel weighing more than 18,000 pounds must report monthly employment statistics.

The “Other Carrier” category generally reflects those airlines that operate within specific niche markets such as the Hawaiian Islands served by Hawaiian Airlines and Island Air Hawaii. 

Data are compiled from monthly reports filed with BTS by commercial air carriers as of May 14.  Additional and previous press releases can be found on the BTS website. BTS has scheduled release of April passenger airline employment data for June 19.

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

MonthNetwork AirlinesLow-Cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesAll Passenger Airlines**
Mar 2012-Mar 2013-3.3-0.1-4.6-2.6
Apr 2012-Apr 2013-3.0-0.3-3.8-2.4
May 2012-May 2013-3.0-0.3-4.4-2.4
Jun 2012-Jun 2013-2.8-0.6-4.4-2.4
Jul 2012-Jul 2013-2.8-0.4-6.3-2.6
Aug 2012-Aug 2013-2.50.0-5.1-2.2
Sep 2012-Sep 2013-2.1-0.2-3.0-1.6
Oct 2012-Oct 2013-1.4-0.1-0.8-0.8
Nov 2012-Nov 2013-0.4-0.1-0.5-0.1
Dec 2012-Dec 20130.4-0.6-0.50.3
Jan 2013-Jan 20140.40.3-0.40.5
Feb 2013-Feb 20140.10.70.50.4
Mar 2013-Mar 20140.60.81.00.8

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 Island Air Hawaii.

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

Month2011201220132014
January0.42.1-2.30.5
February1.02.1-2.40.4
March1.52.1-2.70.8
April2.01.8-2.4 
May2.11.6-2.5 
June1.91.4-2.4 
July2.30.8-2.6 
August2.80.1-2.2 
September2.9-0.6-1.6 
October3.0-1.3-0.8 
November2.6-2.0-0.1 
December2.7-2.60.3 

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 2010-2014

Month20102011201220132014Percent Change
2010-20142013-2014
January379,388380,949388,778380,042381,8190.60.5
February378,020381,831389,901380,414381,9851.00.4
March377,261382,796390,761380,540383,6101.70.8
April376,204383,411390,243380,957   
May376,957384,974390,957381,423   
June378,297385,383390,923381,672   
July378,060386,843391,286381,299   
August377,835388,523389,000380,564   
September377,676388,641386,372380,165   
October378,112389,444384,310381,178   
November379,335389,361381,639381,224   
December379,651389,728379,576380,809   
12-Month Average378,066385,990387,812380,857   
Jan-Mar Average378,223381,859389,813380,332382,4711.10.6

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 4: Airline Group Full-time Equivalent Employees*, March 2010-2014

 NetworkLow-CostRegionalAll Passenger Airlines**
2010256,50463,78351,522377,261
2011260,45465,27352,468382,796
2012263,46469,88652,581390,761
2013254,87069,85350,180380,325
2014256,34270,38450,658383,610
Pct. Change 2010-2014-0.1%10.3%-1.7%1.7%
Percent of Total Passenger Airline Employees in 201466.8%18.3%13.2% 

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.

Table 5: Year-to-Year Change in Airline Group Full-time Equivalent Employees*, March 2010-2014

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

 NetworkLow-CostRegionalAll Passenger Airlines**
2010-3.11.2-10.1-3.8
20111.52.31.81.5
20121.27.10.22.1
2013-3.3-0.1-4.6-2.7
20140.60.81.00.8

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.

Table 6: Top 10 Airlines, March 2014

Ranked by Number of Full-Time Equivalent Employees*

RankAirlineTotal FTE EmployeesCarrier Group**Top 10 Airlines March 2014
1United80,694NetworkUnited
2Delta74,521NetworkDelta
3American59,835NetworkAmerican
4Southwest45,163Low-CostSouthwest
5US Airways31,663NetworkUS Airways
6JetBlue13,513Low-CostJetBlue
7American Eagle10,865RegionalAmerican Eagle
8SkyWest9,912RegionalExpressJet
9Alaska9,629NetworkSkyWest
10ExpressJet9,223RegionalAlaska

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 Airline Year-to-Year Change in Full-time Equivalent Employees* from the Previous Year

Percent change compared to same month of the previous year

 2011201220132014
January0.31.5-3.10.4
February1.11.2-3.00.1
March1.51.2-3.30.6
April1.81.3-3.0 
May2.11.3-3.0 
June1.61.4-2.8 
July2.10.8-2.8 
August2.7-0.2-2.5 
September2.7-0.8-2.1 
October2.7-1.4-1.4 
November2.6-2.4-0.4 
December2.3-3.30.4 

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* 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 2010-2014

Month20102011201220132014Percent Change
2010-20142013-2014
January257,787258,653262,561254,377255,518-0.90.4
February256,756259,545262,788254,955255,158-0.60.1
March256,504260,454263,464254,871256,342-0.10.6
April255,697260,347263,666255,673   
May255,518260,832264,183256,272   
June256,576260,689264,301256,791   
July256,373261,818263,793256,474   
August256,122263,063262,428255,800   
September255,751262,639260,649255,194   
October255,890262,912259,245255,741   
November256,432263,129256,836255,914   
December256,834262,617254,065255,155   
12-Month Average256,353261,392261,498255,601   
Jan-Mar Average257,016259,551262,938254,734255,673-0.50.4

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 9: Network Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees*, March 2010-2014

(FTEs for March of each year. Ranked by March 2014 FTEs)

RankAirline20102011201220132014Percent Change
2010-20142013-2014
1UA/CO Combined76,95777,06982,12782,38580,6944.9-2.1
 United**43,73843,58482,12782,38580,694N/A-2.1
 Continental**33,21933,485N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
2Delta74,72878,50676,52473,39574,521-0.31.5
3American66,16766,20165,47059,00659,835-9.61.4
4US Airways29,45629,79030,31330,70631,6637.53.1
5Alaska9,1988,8899,0319,3799,6294.72.7
 Total256,506260,455263,465254,871256,342-0.10.6

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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

** 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 Airline Year-to-Year Change in Full-time Equivalent Employees* from the Previous Year

Percent change compared to same month of the previous year

Month2011201220132014
January2.25.71.10.3
February2.36.40.20.7
March2.37.1-0.10.8
April4.05.7-0.3 
May4.15.3-0.3 
June5.04.0-0.6 
July5.33.5-0.4 
August5.72.50.0 
September5.92.5-0.2 
October6.21.9-0.1 
November5.91.4-0.1 
December6.61.3-0.6 

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 Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Month 2010-2014

 20102011201220132014Percent Change
2010-20142013-2014
January63,60064,97868,68469,46469,6939.60.3
February63,84565,32169,47369,63070,1359.90.7
March63,78365,27369,88669,85370,38410.30.8
April63,57166,11469,86169,675   
May63,93366,55370,05369,817   
June64,04667,26169,96969,574   
July63,98167,37369,75669,510   
August64,02267,68269,38069,364   
September64,11367,87569,57369,426   
October64,29768,26769,55169,496   
November64,65768,45069,44169,402   
December64,65268,88769,78169,365   
12-Month Average64,04267,00369,61769,548   
Jan-Mar Average63,74365,19169,34869,64970,0719.90.6

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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.

Table 12: Low-Cost Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees*, March 2010-2014

(FTEs for March of each year. Ranked by March 2014 FTEs)

Rank 20102011201220132014Percent Change
2010-20142013-2014
1WN/FL Combined42,43943,23046,11645,79145,1636.4-1.4
 Southwest**34,63735,25938,83345,79145,163N/A-1.4
 AirTran7,8027,9717,283N/AN/AN/AN/A
2JetBlue11,23411,57112,52112,77513,51320.35.8
3Spirit2,0242,1392,7703,2153,56976.311.0
4Frontier4,9664,9024,4263,8083,504-29.4-8.0
5Virgin America1,5251,8232,3592,3862,50564.35.0
6Allegiant1,5971,6091,6951,8792,13033.413.4
 Total63,78365,27369,88669,85370,38410.30.8

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 Airline Year-to-Year Change in Full-time Equivalent Employees* from the Previous Year

Percent change compared to same month of the previous year

Month2011201220132014
January0.40.1-4.1-0.4
February0.90.8-5.00.5
March1.80.2-4.61.0
April2.1-1.5-3.8 
May1.6-2.2-4.4 
June1.5-2.5-4.4 
July1.9-3.3-6.3 
August2.1-2.3-5.1 
September2.0-4.3-3.0 
October2.1-6.0-0.8 
November0.6-5.4-0.5 
December1.5-5.4-0.5 

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 Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Month 2010-2014

 20102011201220132014Percent Change
2010-20142013-2014
January52,53152,76452,79650,64050,425-4.0-0.4
February51,95252,40952,83150,19150,458-2.90.5
March51,52252,46852,58150,18150,658-1.71.0
April51,50252,59651,81149,861   
May52,07452,93051,74649,478   
June52,21052,98451,66449,415   
July52,22953,19752,71549,387   
August52,17953,28452,08249,434   
September52,32253,36151,08249,546   
October52,40253,49050,30549,890   
November52,65652,95450,10049,851   
December52,54953,32850,42650,191   
12-Month Average52,17752,98051,67849,838   
Jan-Mar Average52,00252,54752,73650,33750,514-2.90.4

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 15: Regional Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees*, March 2010-2014

(FTEs for March of each year. Ranked by March 2014 FTEs)

Rank 20102011201220132014Percent Change
2010-20142013-2014
1American Eagle9,0459,6639,90611,24410,86520.1-3.4
2SkyWest8,9899,1399,3729,4149,91210.35.3
3XE/EV Combined8,9818,8859,4308,8489,2232.74.2
 ExpressJet**5,4355,1879,4308,8489,223N/A4.2
 Atlantic Southeast**3,5463,698N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
49E/XJ Combined5,4945,6345,0614,4323,892-29.2-12.2
 Endeavor***3,2893,4795,0614,4323,892N/A-12.2
 Mesaba***2,2052,155N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
5Horizon3,0282,8752,7922,6502,810-7.26.0
6Republic1,9742,1951,9842,2732,76740.221.7
7Air Wisconsin2,5182,5752,6082,5432,5671.90.9
8Shuttle America1,2891,3411,7942,0402,00355.4-1.8
9Mesa2,1991,9791,7511,5451,912-13.123.8
10PSA9659971,0581,0671,31135.922.9
11Compass9668991,0711,0901,20024.210.1
12GoJet5415888311,0861,119106.83.0
13Chautauqua#N/AN/AN/A1,2121,077N/A-11.1
14Executive##1,3331,8841,588737N/AN/AN/A
15Colgan###1,2751,5221,655N/AN/AN/AN/A
16Comair####2,5512,2641,683N/AN/AN/AN/A
17Lynx#####37930N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
 Total51,52252,46852,58150,18150,658-1.71.0

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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

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

*** Endeavor Airlines operated as Pinnacle prior to August 2013. Pinnacle Airlines and Mesaba Airlines began reporting combined numbers in January 2012.

# Effective July 2012 Chautauqua Airlines began reporting employment data.

## Effective the end of March 2013, Executive Airlines ceased operations.

### Effective the end of September 2012, Colgan Airlines ceased operations.

#### Effective the end of October 2012, Comair ceased operations.

##### 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: Wednesday, December 6, 2017
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