Passenger Airline Employment

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August 2015 Passenger Airline Employment Data

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U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 3.3 percent more workers in August 2015 than in August 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. August was the 21st consecutive month that full-time equivalent (FTE) employment for U.S. scheduled passenger airlines exceeded the same month of the previous year and the highest monthly total since September 2008 (Tables 1, 2, 3).

Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-Time Equivalent Employees, Month of August, 1990-2015

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August 2015 Passenger Airline Employment Data

Month-to-month, the number of FTEs rose 0.1 percent from July to August, rising after one monthly decline (Table 1A). Scheduled passenger airline categories include network, low-cost, regional and other airlines. can be found on the BTS web site.

The four network airlines that collectively employ two-thirds of the scheduled passenger airline FTEs reported 3.7 percent more FTEs in August 2015 than in August 2014 (Table 7). Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines increased FTEs from August 2014 while United Airlines reduced FTEs (Table 9). American Airlines reported 6.1 percent more FTEs in August than American and US Airways reported separately in August 2014. July 2015 was the first month for which the two merged airlines submitted a combined report. Month-to-month, the number of network airline FTEs was unchanged from July to August for the second consecutive month (Table 1A). 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.

The six low-cost carriers reported 5.8 percent more FTEs in August 2015 than in August 2014 (Table 10). Spirit Airlines, Allegiant Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Virgin America and Southwest Airlines reported increases while Frontier Airlines reduced FTEs (Table 12). Month-to-month, the number of low-cost airline FTEs rose 0.7 percent from July to August, rising for the fifth consecutive month (Table 1A). Low-cost airlines operate under a low-cost business model, with infrastructure and aircraft operating costs below the overall industry average.

The 12 regional carriers reported 2.7 percent fewer FTEs in August 2015 than in August 2014 (Table 13). Seven regional airlines – PSA Airlines, Compass Airlines, Mesa Airlines, Horizon Air, GoJet Airlines, Republic Airlines and SkyWest Airlines – reported increased employment levels. The others reported decreases (Table 15). Month-to-month, the number of regional airline FTEs declined 0.2 percent from July to August, the third consecutive monthly decrease (Table 1A). Regional carriers typically provide service from small cities, using primarily regional jets to support the network carriers’ hub and spoke systems.

Carrier Groups: The four network airlines employed 66.9 percent of the 397,007 FTEs employed by all scheduled passenger airlines in August, the six low-cost carriers employed 19.0 percent and the 12 regional carriers employed 12.4 percent (Table 4). The three airlines with the most FTEs in August – American, Delta and United– employed 64.1 percent of the month’s total passenger airline FTEs (Tables 3, 6). From 2006 to 2015, the network share of FTEs rose from 65.5 percent to 66.9 percent, the low-cost share rose from 17.4 percent to 19.0 percent and the regional airline share dropped from 13.8 percent to 12.4 percent (Table 5).

Top Employers by Group: American employed the most FTEs (96,719) in August among the network airlines, Southwest employed the most FTEs (48,169) among low-cost airlines, and SkyWest employed the most FTEs (10,057) among regional airlines. The top three 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. American and US Airways began reporting jointly with the report of July employment numbers. The airlines announced a merger in January 2013.

Network Airlines
The network airlines employed 3.7 percent more FTEs in August 2015 than in August 2014 and 1.6 percent more FTEs in August 2015 than in August 2011 (Tables 8, 9).

Low-Cost Airlines
The six low-cost airlines employed 5.8 percent more FTEs in August 2015 than in August 2014 and 11.6 percent more FTEs in August 2015 than in August 2011 (Tables 11, 12).

Regional Airlines
Regional airlines employed 2.7 percent fewer FTEs in August 2015 than in August 2014.  The 12 regional carriers reporting in August 2015 employed 7.4 percent fewer FTEs in August 2015 than the 17 carriers reporting in August 2011 (Tables 14, 15).

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 Oct. 7. Additional and previous press releases can be found on the BTS website. BTS has scheduled release of September passenger airline employment data for Nov. 23.  

Table 1: Yearly Change in Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Airline Group

Most recent 13 months - percent change compared to same month the previous year

 Network AirlinesLow-Cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesAll Passenger Airlines**
Aug 2013-Aug 20140.13.02.51.0
Sep 2013-Sep 20140.42.91.91.1
Oct 2013-Oct 20140.33.8-0.20.9
Nov 2013-Nov 20140.45.21.51.5
Dec 2013-Dec 20140.84.4-0.21.4
Jan 2014-Jan 20150.84.6-1.91.2
Feb 2014-Feb 20151.44.6-0.31.8
Mar 2014-Mar 20151.74.0-0.51.9
Apr 2014-Apr 20152.44.2-0.42.4
May 2014-May 20152.74.3-0.32.6
Jun 2014-Jun 20153.14.90.13.0
Jul 2014-Jul 20153.15.2-3.32.7
Aug 2014-Aug 20153.75.8-2.73.3

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 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 1A: Monthly Change in Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Airline Group

Percent change in FTEs from the previous month

 Network AirlinesLow-Cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesAll Passenger Airlines**
Aug 2014-Sep 20140.00.1-0.30.0
Sep 2014-Oct 20140.11.0-1.40.1
Oct 2014- Nov 20140.21.31.60.6
Nov 2014-Dec 20140.2-0.8-1.0-0.2
Dec 2014-Jan 20150.10.7-1.20.1
Jan 2015-Feb 20150.50.61.70.6
Feb 2015-Mar 20150.8-0.20.10.5
Mar 2015-Apr 20150.81.7-0.10.7
Apr 2015-May 20150.60.60.30.6
May 2015-Jun 20150.40.6-0.20.3
Jun 2015-Jul 20150.00.5-1.8-0.1
Jul 2015-Aug 20150.00.7-0.20.1

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

Month2012201320142015
January2.1-2.30.51.2
February2.1-2.50.41.8
March2.1-2.70.81.9
April1.8-2.41.02.6
May1.6-2.51.12.6
June1.1-2.40.93.0
July1.4-2.61.32.7
August0.6-2.21.03.3
September-0.6-1.61.1 
October-1.3-0.80.9 
November-2.0-0.11.5 
December-2.60.31.4 

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 2011-2015

Month20112012201320142015Percent Change
2011-20152014-2015
January380,949388,778380,042381,819386,5591.51.2
February381,831389,901380,375381,985388,9831.91.8
March387,063390,761380,536383,575390,8411.01.9
April383,721390,243380,957384,265393,4462.52.4
May385,027390,957381,423385,619395,6262.82.6
June386,844390,923381,672385,243396,9732.63.0
July387,240391,286381,299386,243396,5032.42.7
August386,783389,000380,564384,478397,0072.63.3
September388,641386,372380,165384,439   
October389,444384,310381,178384,700   
November389,361381,639381,224386,912   
December389,728379,576380,809386,222   
12-Month Average386,386387,812380,854384,625   
Jan-Aug Average384,932390,231380,859384,153393,2422.22.4

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*, August 2011-2015

 NetworkLow-CostRegionalAll Passenger Airlines**
2011261,31667,68353,288386,783
2012262,42669,37952,079388,992
2013255,80069,28649,434380,486
2014256,09571,38750,671384,478
2015265,56775,54949,320397,007
Percent of Total Passenger Airline Employees in 201566.9%19.0%12.4%100%

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: Carrier Group Percent of Total Scheduled Passenger Airline FTEs 2006-2015

(August of each year)

 NetworkLow-CostRegionalOther
200665.5%17.4%13.8%3.3%
201067.8%16.9%13.8%1.5%
201466.6%18.6%13.2%1.6%
201566.9%19.0%12.4%1.7%

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, August 2015

Ranked by Number of Full-Time Equivalent Employees*

RankAirlineTotal FTE EmployeesCarrier Group**Top 10 Airlines August 2014
1American96,719NetworkUnited
2Delta79,127NetworkDelta
3United78,796NetworkAmerican
4Southwest48,169Low-CostSouthwest
5JetBlue14,872Low-CostUS Airways
6Alaska10,925NetworkJetBlue
7SkyWest10,057RegionalAmerican Eagle
8Envoy9,645RegionalAlaska
9ExpressJet7,708RegionalSkyWest
10Spirit4,410Low-CostExpressJet

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

 2012201320142015
January1.5-3.10.40.8
February1.2-3.00.11.4
March1.2-3.30.61.7
April1.3-3.00.42.4
May1.3-3.00.52.7
June0.8-2.80.33.1
July0.6-2.80.43.1
August0.4-2.50.13.7
September-0.8-2.10.4 
October-1.4-1.40.3 
November-2.4-0.40.4 
December-3.30.40.8 

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 2011-2015

Month20112012201320142015Percent Change
2011-20152014-2015
January258,889262,561254,377255,518257,627-0.50.8
February259,816262,788254,955255,158258,796-0.41.4
March260,773263,464254,870256,342260,7940.01.7
April260,649263,666255,673256,732262,9050.92.4
May261,154264,183256,272257,578264,4381.32.7
June262,145264,301256,791257,491265,4861.33.1
July262,208263,793256,474257,541265,5511.33.1
August261,316262,428255,800256,095265,5671.63.7
September262,639260,649255,194256,133   
October262,912259,245255,741256,409   
November263,129256,836255,914256,823   
December262,617254,065255,155257,251   
12-Month Average261,521261,498255,601256,589   
Jan-Aug Average260,869263,398255,652256,557262,6460.72.4

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*, August 2011-2015

(FTEs for August of each year. Ranked by August 2015 FTEs)

RankAirline20112012201320142015Percent Change
2011-20152014-2015
1AA/US Combined96,55094,09790,32091,13296,719 0.26.1
 American66,30263,75259,14059,60296,719N/AN/A
 US Airways30,24830,34531,18031,530N/AN/AN/A
2Delta75,74377,14573,87375,73479,1274.54.5
3UA/CO Combined80,06581,94682,08279,26378,796-1.6-0.6
 United**43,23581,94682,08279,263N/AN/AN/A
 Continental**36,830N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
5Alaska8,9589,2409,5259,96610,92522.09.6
 Total261,316262,428255,800256,095265,5671.63.7

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.

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

Month2012201320142015
January5.71.10.34.6
February6.40.20.74.6
March7.1-0.10.84.0
April5.7-0.31.54.2
May5.3-0.31.84.3
June4.0-0.65.04.9
July3.5-0.42.55.2
August2.50.03.05.8
September2.5-0.22.9 
October1.9-0.13.8 
November1.4-0.15.2 
December1.3-0.64.4 

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 11: Low-Cost Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Month 2011-2015

 20112012201320142015Percent Change
2011-20152014-2015
January64,97868,68469,46469,69372,90912.24.6
February65,32369,47369,59570,13573,35112.34.6
March65,46769,88669,85370,38473,18011.84.0
April66,11769,86169,67570,75173,69511.54.2
May66,55570,05369,81771,09574,16711.44.3
June67,26369,96969,57471,07474,59210.94.9
July67,37569,75669,51071,27274,99911.35.2
August67,68369,38069,36471,38775,54911.65.8
September67,87569,57369,42671,428   
October68,26969,55169,49672,110   
November68,45069,44169,40273,014   
December68,88769,78169,36572,399   
12-Month Average67,02069,61769,54571,229   
Jan-Aug Average66,34569,63369,60770,72474,05511.64.7

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*, August 2011-2015

(FTEs for August of each year. Ranked by August 2015 FTEs)

Rank 20112012201320142015Percent Change
2011-20152014-2015
1WN/FL Combined44,907 45,74945,00045,56948,1697.35.7
 Southwest**36,73745,74945,00045,56948,16931.15.7
 AirTran8,170N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
2JetBlue11,91812,56312,99813,45614,87224.810.5
3Spirit2,3372,8143,3743,7744,41088.716.9
4Frontier4,9944,0563,5503,8322,776-44.4-27.6
5Virgin America1,9802,4522,4172,5082,70236.57.7
6Allegiant1,5471,7461,9472,2482,62069.416.5
 Total67,683 69,380 69,286 71,38775,54911.65.8

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 employment 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

Month2012201320142015
January0.1-4.1-0.4-1.9
February0.8-5.00.5-0.3
March0.2-4.60.9-0.5
April-1.5-3.82.3-0.4
May-2.2-4.52.4-0.3
June-2.5-4.41.90.1
July-0.9-6.33.5-3.3
August-2.3-5.12.5-2.7
September-4.3-3.01.9 
October-6.0-0.8-0.2 
November-5.4-0.51.5 
December-5.4-0.5-0.2 

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 2011-2015

 20112012201320142015Percent Change
2011-20152014-2015
January52,76452,79650,64050,42549,484-6.2-1.9
February52,41352,83150,18850,45850,325-4.0-0.3
March52,47052,58150,18050,62350,368-4.0-0.5
April52,60151,81149,86150,52650,333-4.3-0.4
May52,93351,74649,47850,63350,474-4.6-0.3
June52,98751,66449,41550,33650,373-4.90.1
July53,20152,71549,38751,10749,403-7.1-3.3
August53,28852,08249,43450,67149,320-7.4-2.7
September53,36151,08249,54650,512   
October53,49050,30549,89049,789   
November52,95450,10049,85150,605   
December53,32850,42650,19150,083   
12-Month Average52,98351,67849,83850,481   
Jan-Aug Average52,83252,27849,82350,59750,010-5.3-1.2

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*, August 2011-2015

(FTEs for August of each year. Ranked by August 2015 FTEs)

Rank 20112012201320142015Percent Change
2011-20152014-2015
1SkyWest9,4019,4509,4279,89610,0577.01.6
2Envoy9,9219,95311,13810,8119,645-2.8-10.8
3XE/EV Combined9,203 9,2389,0229,2217,708-16.2-16.4
 ExpressJet**5,3629,2389,0229,2217,708N/A-16.4
 Atlantic Southeast**3,841N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
49E/XJ Combined5,721 4,5044,0693,7413,243-43.3-13.3
 Endeavor***3,6574,5044,0693,7413,243N/A-13.3
 Mesaba***2,064N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
5Horizon2,8322,7482,6662,7943,18312.413.9
6Republic2,1021,9872,47129543,10747.85.2
7S5/RP Combined1,587 3,1483,2272,8892,72071.4-5.8
 Shuttle America#1,5871,8662,0572,0322,72071.4N/A
 Chautauqua#N/A1,2821,170857N/AN/AN/A
8Mesa1,9081,7321,7222,0552,66239.529.5
9PSA1,0261,0711,0661,5402,296123.849.1
10Air Wisconsin2,5132,5872,4672,4661,890-24.8-23.4
11Compass1,0301,0981,0961,2031,58453.831.7
12GoJet5661,0081,0631,1011,225116.411.3
13Executive##1,8041,350N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
14Colgan###1,582695N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
15Comair####2,0921,513N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
 Total53,288 52,08249,43450,67149,320-7.4-2.7

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. Chautauqua did not qualify for monthly reporting prior to July 2012 because it did not operate aircraft with more than 60 seats. Effective the end of December 2014, Shuttle America and Chautauqua combined operations and Chautauqua ceased operating.

## 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.

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: Friday, December 15, 2017
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