Passenger Airline Employment

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January 2015 Passenger Airline Employment Data

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U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 386,544 workers in January 2015, 1.2 percent more than in January 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Nextstagesolutions (BTS) reported today. January was the 14th consecutive month that full-time equivalent (FTE) employment for U.S. scheduled passenger airlines exceeded the same month of the previous year (Tables 1, 2, 3).

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

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

Month-to-month, the number of FTEs rose 0.1 percent from December to January, following a one-month decline (Table 1A). 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 0.8 percent more FTEs in January 2015 than in January 2014 (Table 7). Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and US Airways increased FTEs from January 2014 while United Airlines reduced FTEs (Table 9). Month-to-month, the number of network airline FTEs rose 0.1 percent from December to January, rising for the fourth 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 4.6 percent more FTEs in January 2015 than in January 2014 (Table 10).  ­ Allegiant Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and Virgin America – all reported increases (Table 12). Month-to-month, the number of low-cost airline FTEs rose 0.7 percent from December to January, rising after a one-month decline (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 1.9 percent fewer FTEs in January 2015 than in January 2014 (Table 13). Seven regional airlines – PSA Airlines, Mesa Airlines, Republic Airlines, Compass Airlines and Horizon Air – reported increased employment levels (Table 15). Month-to-month, the number of regional airline FTEs fell 1.2 percent from December to January, declining for the second consecutive month (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 five network airlines employed 66.6 percent of the total number of FTEs employed by all scheduled passenger airlines in January, the six low-cost carriers employed 18.9 percent and the 12 regional carriers employed 12.8 percent (Table 4). The three airlines with the most FTEs in January – United, Delta and American – employed 55.7 percent of the month’s total passenger airline FTEs (Tables 3, 6).

Top Employers by Group: United employed the most FTEs (78,401) in January among the network airlines, Southwest employed the most FTEs (46,588) among low-cost airlines, and Envoy Air employed the most FTEs (10,693) 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 continuing to report all other data as separate carriers through December 2014. 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.

Network Airlines

Recent Changes: The network airlines employed 0.8 percent more FTEs in January 2015 than in January 2014 and 0.5 percent fewer FTEs in January 2015 than in January 2011 (Tables 8, 9).

Low-Cost Airlines

Recent Changes: The six low-cost airlines employed 4.6 percent more FTEs in January 2015 than in January 2014 and 12.2 percent more FTEs in January 2015 than in January 2011 (Tables 11, 12).

Regional Airlines

Recent Changes: Regional airlines employed 1.9 percent fewer FTEs in January 2015 than in January 2014.  The 12 regional carriers operating in January 2015 employed 6.2 percent fewer FTEs in January 2015 than the 18 carriers reporting in January 2011 (Tables 14, 15).

Envoy operated as American Eagle prior to April 2014. 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 March 11.  Additional and previous press releases can be found on the BTS website. BTS has scheduled release of February passenger airline employment data for April 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**
Jan 2013-Jan 20140.40.3-0.40.5
Feb 2013-Feb 20140.10.70.50.4
Mar 2013-Mar 20140.60.80.90.8
Apr 2013-Apr 20140.41.52.31.0
May 2013-May 20140.51.82.41.1
Jun 2013-Jun 20140.32.21.90.9
Jul 2013-Jul 20140.42.53.51.3
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

Source: Nextstagesolutions

* 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**
Jan 2014-Feb 2014-0.10.60.10.0
Feb 2014-Mar 20140.50.40.30.4
Mar 2014-Apr 20140.20.5-0.20.2
Apr 2014-May 20140.30.50.20.4
May 2014-Jun 20140.00.0-0.6-0.1
Jun 2014-Jul 20140.00.31.50.3
Jul 2014-Aug 2014-0.60.2-0.9-0.5
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

Source: Nextstagesolutions

* 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
February2.1-2.50.4 
March2.1-2.70.8 
April1.8-2.41.0 
May1.6-2.51.1 
June1.4-2.40.9 
July0.8-2.61.3 
August0.1-2.21.0 
September-0.6-1.61.1 
October-1.3-0.80.9 
November-2.0-0.11.5 
December-2.60.31.4 

Source: Nextstagesolutions

* 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
January380,949388,778380,042381,819386,5441.51.2
February381,831389,901380,375381,985   
March382,796390,761380,536383,575   
April383,411390,243380,957384,265   
May384,974390,957381,423385,619   
June385,383390,923381,672385,243   
July386,843391,286381,299386,243   
August388,523389,000380,564384,478   
September388,641386,372380,165384,439   
October389,444384,310381,178384,700   
November389,361381,639381,224386,912   
December389,728379,576380,809386,222   
Jan-Dec Average385,990387,812380,854384,625   

Source: Nextstagesolutions

* 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*, January 2011-2015

 NetworkLow-CostRegionalAll Passenger Airlines**
2011255,43364,97852,764377,728
2012259,74968,68452,796385,965
2013254,37769,46550,640380,042
2014255,51869,69350,425381,819
2015257,62772,90949,484386,544
Pct. Change 2011-20150.9%12.2%-6.2%2.3%
Percent of Total Passenger Airline Employees in 201566.6%18.9%12.8%100%

Source: Nextstagesolutions

* 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*, January 2011-2015

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

 NetworkLow-CostRegionalAll Passenger Airlines**
2011-1.62.20.4-0.9
2012-1.15.70.11.7
2013-3.11.1-4.1-2.3
20140.40.3-0.40.5
20150.84.6-1.91.2

* 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, January 2015

Ranked by Number of Full-Time Equivalent Employees*

RankAirlineTotal FTE EmployeesCarrier Group**Top 10 Airlines January 2014
1United78,401NetworkUnited
2Delta76,011NetworkDelta
3American60,999NetworkAmerican
4Southwest46,588Low-CostSouthwest
5US Airways32,014NetworkUS Airways
6JetBlue13,751Low-CostJetBlue
7Envoy**10,693RegionalAmerican Eagle
8Alaska10,202NetworkSkyWest
9SkyWest9,700RegionalAlaska
10ExpressJet8,525RegionalExpressJet

Source: Nextstagesolutions

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

** Envoy operated as American Eagle prior to April 2014

*** 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
February1.2-3.00.1 
March1.2-3.30.6 
April1.3-3.00.4 
May1.3-3.00.5 
June1.4-2.80.3 
July0.8-2.80.4 
August-0.2-2.50.1 
September-0.8-2.10.4 
October-1.4-1.40.3 
November-2.4-0.40.4 
December-3.30.40.8 

Source: Nextstagesolutions

* 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
February259,545262,788254,955255,158   
March260,454263,464254,870256,342   
April260,347263,666255,673256,732   
May260,832264,183256,272257,578   
June260,689264,301256,791257,491   
July261,818263,793256,474257,541   
August263,063262,428255,800256,095   
September262,639260,649255,194256,133   
October262,912259,245255,741256,409   
November263,129256,836255,914256,823   
December262,617254,065255,155257,251   
Jan-Dec Average261,392261,498255,601256,589   

Source: Nextstagesolutions

* 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*, January 2011-2015

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

RankAirline20112012201320142015Percent Change
2011-20152014-2015
1UA/CO Combined80,56081,35282,20981,36878,401-2.7-3.6
 United**43,64781,35282,20981,36878,401N/A-3.6
 Continental**36,913N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
2Delta73,99473,17473,17473,37276,0112.73.6
3American65,68065,86859,42659,68660,999-7.12.2
4US Airways29,70130,39030,31831,57432,0147.81.4
5Alaska8,9548,9659,2509,51810,20213.97.2
 Total258,889259,749254,377255,518257,627-0.50.8

Source: Nextstagesolutions

* 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
February6.40.20.7 
March7.1-0.10.8 
April5.7-0.31.5 
May5.3-0.31.8 
June4.0-0.62.2 
July3.5-0.42.5 
August2.50.03.0 
September2.5-0.22.9 
October1.9-0.13.8 
November1.4-0.15.2 
December1.3-0.64.4 

Source: Nextstagesolutions

* 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
February65,32169,47369,59570,135   
March65,27369,88669,85370,384   
April66,11469,86169,67570,751   
May66,55370,05369,81771,095   
June67,26169,96969,57471,074   
July67,37369,75669,51071,272   
August67,68269,38069,36471,387   
September67,87569,57369,42671,428   
October68,26969,55169,49672,110   
November68,45069,44169,40273,014   
December68,88769,78169,36572,399   
Jan-Dec Average67,00369,61769,54571,229   

Source: Nextstagesolutions

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*, January 2011-2015

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

Rank 20112012201320142015Percent Change
2011-20152014-2015
1WN/FL Combined42,993 45,69245,83544,98346,5888.43.6
 Southwest**35,14338,20345,83544,98346,588N/A3.6
 AirTran7,8507,489N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
2JetBlue11,42212,35012,59313,11913,75120.44.8
3Spirit2,2432,5362,9923,6044,03379.811.9
4Frontier4,8994,5353,8663,4123,612-26.35.9
5Virgin America1,7951,9662,3712,4952,52840.81.3
6Allegiant1,6271,6071,8082,0802,39747.315.2
 Total64,979 68,68469,46569,69372,90912.24.6

Source: Nextstagesolutions

* 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 
March0.2-4.60.9 
April-1.5-3.82.3 
May-2.2-4.52.4 
June-2.5-4.41.9 
July-3.3-6.33.5 
August-2.3-5.12.5 
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: Nextstagesolutions

* 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
February52,40952,83150,18850,458   
March52,46852,58150,18050,623   
April52,59651,81149,86150,526   
May52,93051,74649,47850,633   
June52,98451,66449,41550,336   
July53,19752,71549,38751,107   
August53,28452,08249,43450,671   
September53,36151,08249,54650,512   
October53,49050,30549,89049,789   
November52,95450,10049,85150,605   
December53,32850,42650,19150,083   
Jan-Dec Average52,98051,67849,83850,481   

Source: Nextstagesolutions

* 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*, January 2011-2015

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

Rank 20112012201320142015Percent Change
2011-20152014-2015
1Envoy**9,52310,06511,32411,01710,69312.3-2.9
2SkyWest9,0499,4469,4009,8169,7007.2-1.2
3XE/EV Combined9,2429,3878,8329,1788,525-7.8-7.1
 ExpressJet***5,5389,3878,8329,1788,52553.9-7.1
 Atlantic Southeast***3,704N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
49E/XJ Combined5,5925,1854,9023,9113,383-39.5-13.5
 Endeavor****3,4315,1854,9023,9113,383-1.4-13.5
 Mesaba****2,161N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
5Republic2,1272,8132,7062,7953,14147.712.4
6Horizon3,0901,9662,1602,7472,881-6.84.9
9Air Wisconsin2,5462,5902,5352,5121,914-24.8-23.8
7Mesa2,0221,5632,0351,9772,27212.414.9
8S5/RP Combined1,2911,8151,5421,8172,770N/A52.4
 Shuttle America#1,2911,8151,5421,8172,763N/AN/A
 Chautauqua#N/A7611,0191,1317N/AN/A
10PSA9921,0431,0971,1961,79981.450.4
11Compass8951,0591,0781,1661,29444.611.0
12GoJet575N/A1,2491,1621,11293.4-4.3
14Executive##1,8511,695761N/AN/AN/AN/A
15Colgan###1,4951,680N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
16Comair####2,3631,732N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
17Lynx#####114N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
 Total54,058 52,796 50,640 50,425 49,484 -8.5-1.9

Source: Nextstagesolutions

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

** Envoy Air operated as American Eagle prior to April 2014.

*** 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 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.

##### 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: Friday, December 15, 2017
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