Passenger Airline Employment

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February 2017 Passenger Airline Employment Data

Release Number: 
BTS 20-17
Date: 
Friday, April 21, 2017

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U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 4.2 percent more workers in February 2017 than in February 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. February was the highest monthly total (420,824) since July 2005 (428,091) and was the 40th consecutive month that U.S. scheduled passenger airline full-time equivalent (FTE) employment exceeded the same month of the previous year (Tables 1, 2, 3).

(Last 24 Months)
U.S. Scheduled Passenger Airline Employment Percent Change from Previous Year (Last 24 months)
03/20151.9
04/20152.4
05/20152.6
06/20153.0
07/20152.7
08/20153.3
09/20153.3
10/20154.0
11/20153.7
12/20153.9
01/20164.1
02/20163.8
03/20163.9
04/20163.6
05/20163.7
06/20163.9
07/20164.3
08/20164.3
09/20164.3
10/20164.0
11/20163.7
12/20163.7
1/20173.9
2/20174.2

Month-to-month, the number of FTEs rose 0.7 percent from January to February (Table 1A). Scheduled passenger airline categories include network, low-cost, regional and other airlines. Historical employment data can be found on the BTS web site.

The four network airlines that collectively employ 65.0 percent of the scheduled passenger airline FTEs reported 2.4 percent more FTEs in February 2017 than in February 2016 (Tables 7, 8, 9).   Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines increased FTEs from January 2016. Month-to-month, the number of network airline FTEs rose 0.4 percent from January to February (Table 1A).

The network airlines employed 7.2 percent more FTEs in February 2017 than in February 2013 (Tables 8, 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.

The six low-cost carriers reported 9.4 percent more FTEs in February 2017 than in February 2016 (Tables 10, 11, 12). Allegiant Air, Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, and Virgin America increased FTEs from February 2016 (Table 12). Month-to-month, the number of low-cost airline FTEs rose 0.9 percent from January to February (Table 1A).  The six low-cost airlines employed 25.0 percent more FTEs in February 2017 than in February 2013 (Tables 11, 12).  Low-cost airlines operate under a low-cost business model, with infrastructure and aircraft operating costs below the overall industry average.

The 11 regional carriers reported 4.5 percent more FTEs in February 2017 than in February 2016 (Tables 13, 14, 15). Eight regional airlines – Endeavor Air, Compass Airlines, PSA Airlines, GoJet Airlines, Mesa Airlines, SkyWest Airlines, Envoy Air, and Horizon Air increased FTEs from February 2016.  ExpressJet Airlines’ FTEs were unchanged while Air Wisconsin reported a decrease. In addition, Republic Airlines reported 2.3 percent more FTEs in February 2017 than the combined total that Republic and Shuttle America reported in February 2016 (Table 15). Month-to-month, the number of regional airline FTEs rose 2.4 percent from January to February (Table 1A). The 11 regional carriers reporting in February 2017 employed 5.0 percent more FTEs in February 2017 than the 15 carriers reporting in February 2013 (Tables 14, 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 four network airlines employed 65.0 percent of the 420,824 FTEs employed by all scheduled passenger airlines in February, the six low-cost carriers employed 20.7 percent and the 11 regional carriers employed 12.5 percent (Table 4).  In comparison, in February 2006, the network airlines employed 66.6 percent of the FTEs, the six low-cost carriers employed 17.0 percent and the regional carriers employed 14.3 percent (Table 5).

Top Employers by Group: American Airlines employed the most FTEs (99,845) in February among the network airlines, Southwest employed the most FTEs (54,551) among low-cost airlines, and Envoy Air employed the most FTEs (11,171) among regional airlines (Table 6). The three airlines with the most FTEs in February – American, United and Delta– employed 62.2 percent of the month’s total passenger airline FTEs (Tables 3, 6).

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 April 10. Additional airline employment data and previous press releases can be found on the BTS website. BTS has scheduled release of March passenger airline employment data for May 18. 

Most recent 13 months - percent change from same month of the previous year
Network AirlinesLow-cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesOther AirlinesAll Passenger Airlines **
Feb 2015 - Feb 20163.28.50.26.53.8
Mar 2015 - Mar 20162.99.60.17.43.9
Apr 2015 - Apr 20162.410.20.18.13.6
May 2015 - May 20162.310.70.29.33.7
Jun 2015 - Jun 20162.311.00.910.63.9
Jul 2015 - Jul 20162.411.33.311.24.3
Aug 2015 - Aug 20162.511.03.311.94.3
Sep 2015 - Sep 20162.610.62.913.04.3
Oct 2015 - Oct 20162.710.30.312.74.0
Nov 2015 - Nov 20162.39.80.213.53.7
Dec 2015 - Dec 20162.49.50.213.73.7
Jan 2016 - Jan 20172.39.71.912.73.9
Feb 2016 - Feb 20172.49.44.511.84.2
Notes: 

* 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.

See Table 2 for all passenger airlines, Table 7 for Network, Table 10 for Low-Cost and Table 13 for Regional.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change in FTEs from the previous month
Network AirlinesLow-cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesOther AirlinesAll Passenger Airlines **
Feb 2016 - Mar 20160.50.80.00.70.5
Mar 2016 - Apr 20160.31.2-0.10.80.4
Apr 2016 - May 20160.51.10.41.60.6
May 2016 - Jun 20160.30.90.50.80.5
Jun 2016 - Jul 20160.20.80.41.00.3
Jul 2016 - Aug 20160.10.4-0.10.90.1
Aug 2016 - Sep 20160.00.5-0.51.50.1
Sep 2016 - Oct 20160.20.9-0.10.80.3
Oct 2016 - Nov 2016-0.20.50.01.50.0
Nov 2016 - Dec 20160.10.00.00.50.1
Dec 2016 - Jan 2017-0.11.01.60.50.4
Jan 2017 - Feb 20170.40.92.40.60.7
Notes: 

* 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.

See Table 2 for all passenger airlines, Table 7 for Network, Table 10 for Low-Cost and Table 13 for Regional.

Source: 

 Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change compared to same month the previous year
Month2014201520162017
January0.51.24.13.9
February0.41.83.84.2
March0.81.93.9
April1.02.43.6
May1.12.63.7
June0.93.03.9
July1.32.74.3
August1.03.34.3
September1.13.34.3
October0.94.04.0
November1.53.73.7
December1.43.93.7
Notes: 

* Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers.

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Month20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013 - 20172016 - 2017
January 380,042 381,819 386,528 402,208 417,833 9.93.9
February 380,414 381,985 388,976 403,917 420,824 10.64.2
March 380,540 383,575 390,817 405,983
April 380,487 384,265 393,439 407,763
May 381,372 385,619 395,621 410,338
June 381,672 385,243 396,973 412,333
July 381,299 386,243 396,503 413,746
August 380,486 384,478 397,007 414,242
September 380,165 384,501 397,326 414,558
October 381,178 384,700 399,928 415,979
November 381,224 386,912 401,280 416,046
December 380,809 386,222 401,440 416,337
12 - Month Average 380,807 384,630 395,487 411,121
Jan - Feb Average 380,228 381,902 387,752 403,063 419,329 10.34.0
Notes: 

* Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers.

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Network AirlinesLow-cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesOther AirlinesAll Passenger Airlines**
2013 254,955 69,630 50,191 5,638 380,414
2014 255,158 70,135 50,458 6,234 381,985
2015 258,796 73,351 50,318 6,511 388,976
2016 266,987 79,578 50,416 6,936 403,917
2017 273,365 87,030 52,676 7,753 420,824
Percent of Total Passenger Airline Employees in 201765.0%20.7%12.5%1.8%100%
Notes: 

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

** Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

(February of each year)
YearNetwork AirlinesLow-cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesOther Airlines
200666.617.014.32.1
201267.117.913.61.3
201666.119.712.51.7
201765.020.712.51.8
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Ranked by Number of Full-Time Equivalent Employees*
RankAirlineTotal FTE EmployeesCarrier Group**Top 10 Airlines February 2016
1American 99,845 NetworkAmerican
2United 82,225 NetworkUnited
3Delta 79,510 NetworkDelta
4Southwest 54,551 Low-costSouthwest
5JetBlue 16,852 Low-costJetBlue
6Alaska 11,785 NetworkAlaska
7Envoy Air 11,171 RegionalEnvoy
8SkyWest 11,159 RegionalSkyWest
9ExpressJet 7,229 RegionalExpressJet
10Spirit 5,652 Low-costHawaiian
Notes: 

* 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.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change compared to same month of the previous year
2014201520162017
January0.40.83.32.3
February0.11.43.22.4
March0.61.72.9
April0.42.42.4
May0.52.72.3
June0.33.12.3
July0.43.12.4
August0.13.72.5
September0.43.62.6
October0.33.62.7
November0.43.72.3
December0.83.52.4
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013 - 20172016 - 2017
January 254,377 255,518 257,627 266,245 272,407 7.12.3
February 254,955 255,158 258,796 266,987 273,365 7.22.4
March 254,871 256,342 260,794 268,375
April 255,674 256,732 262,905 269,169
May 256,274 257,578 264,438 270,559
June 256,791 257,491 265,486 271,503
July 256,474 257,541 265,551 271,963
August 255,800 256,095 265,567 272,112
September 255,194 256,133 265,315 272,136
October 255,741 256,409 265,704 272,787
November 255,914 256,823 266,251 272,347
December 255,155 257,251 266,136 272,614
12 - Month Average 255,602 256,589 263,714 270,566
Jan - Feb Average 254,666 255,338 258,212 266,616 272,886 7.22.4
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

(FTEs for February of each year. Ranked by February 2017 FTEs)
RankAirline20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013 - 20172016 - 2017
1American 89,968 91,303 93,636 97,405 99,845 11.02.5
2United 82,214 80,694 78,380 79,385 82,225 0.0 3.6
3Delta 73,465 73,602 76,440 79,214 79,510 8.20.4
4Alaska 9,308 9,559 10,340 10,983 11,785 26.67.3
Total 254,955 255,158 258,796 266,987 273,365 7.22.4
Notes: 

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

** American Airlines and US Airways merged and began reporting combined numbers in July 2015.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change compared to same month of the previous year
2014201520162017
January0.34.67.99.7
February0.74.68.59.4
March0.83.99.6
April1.54.210.2
May1.84.310.7
June2.24.911.0
July2.55.211.3
August3.05.811.0
September2.96.610.6
October3.86.910.3
November5.26.59.8
December4.47.89.5
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013 - 20172016 - 2017
January 69,465 69,693 72,909 78,638 86,287 24.29.7
February 69,630 70,135 73,351 79,578 87,030 25.09.4
March 69,854 70,384 73,163 80,202
April 69,677 70,751 73,695 81,180
May 69,818 71,095 74,167 82,070
June 69,574 71,074 74,592 82,796
July 69,510 71,272 74,999 83,481
August 69,286 71,387 75,549 83,823
September 69,426 71,428 76,176 84,284
October 69,496 72,110 77,063 85,033
November 69,402 73,014 77,783 85,439
December 69,365 72,399 78,035 85,434
12 - Month Average 69,542 71,229 75,124 82,663
Jan - Feb Average 69,548 69,914 73,130 79,108 86,659 24.69.5
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

(FTEs for February of each year. Ranked by February 2017 FTEs)
RankAirline20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013 - 20172016 - 2017
1Southwest 45,857 45,091 46,784 50,449 54,551 19.08.1
2JetBlue 12,678 13,301 13,901 15,383 16,852 32.99.5
3Spirit 3,026 3,534 4,079 4,916 5,652 86.815.0
4Allegiant 1,867 2,134 2,460 3,008 3,488 86.816.0
5Frontier 3,850 3,565 3,575 3,002 3,472 -9.815.7
6Virgin 2,352 2,510 2,552 2,820 3,015 28.26.9
Total 69,630 70,135 73,351 79,578 87,030 25.09.4
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change compared to same month of the previous year
Month2014201520162017
January-0.4-1.92.01.9
February0.5-0.30.24.5
March0.9-0.50.1
April2.3-0.40.1
May2.4-0.30.2
June1.90.10.9
July3.5-3.33.3
August2.5-2.73.3
September2.1-2.72.9
October-0.21.40.3
November1.5-0.20.2
December-0.20.90.2
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013 - 20172016 - 2017
January 50,640 50,425 49,477 50,482 51,430 1.61.9
February 50,191 50,458 50,318 50,416 52,676 5.04.5
March 50,181 50,623 50,361 50,424
April 49,387 50,526 50,326 50,374
May 49,424 50,633 50,469 50,554
June 49,415 50,336 50,373 50,823
July 49,387 51,107 49,403 51,021
August 49,434 50,671 49,320 50,957
September 49,546 50,574 49,231 50,677
October 49,890 49,789 50,486 50,637
November 49,851 50,605 50,522 50,625
December 50,191 50,083 50,521 50,616
12 - Month Average 49,795 50,486 50,067 50,634
Jan - Feb Average 50,416 50,442 49,898 50,449 52,053 3.33.2
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

(FTEs for February of each year. Ranked by February 2017 FTEs)
RankAirline20132014201520162017Percent Change
201220122012201220122013 - 20172016 - 2017
1 Envoy Air 11,355 10,955 10,936 10,620 11,171 -1.65.2
2 SkyWest Airlines 9,382 9,831 9,747 10,569 11,159 18.95.6
3 ExpressJet 8,801 9,201 8,846 7,229 7,229 -17.90.0
4 YX/S5/RP Combined 5,457 5,853 5,934 5,387 5,510 1.02.3
Republic# 2,226 2,752 3,150 3,147 5,510 147.575.1
Shuttle America# 2,013 1,970 2,784 2,240 N/A N/A N/A
Chautauqua# 1,218 1,131 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
5 Endeavor 4,485 3,892 3,306 3,332 3,842 -14.315.3
6 Horizon 2,687 2,798 2,874 3,246 3,287 22.31.3
7 Mesa 1,541 1,841 2,313 2,827 3,025 96.37.0
8 PSA 1,080 1,227 1,956 2,529 2,854 164.312.9
9 Compass 1,082 1,203 1,361 1,653 1,898 75.414.8
10 Air Wisconsin 2,538 2,544 1,917 1,827 1,373 -45.9-24.8
11 GoJet 1,039 1,113 1,128 1197.0 1,328 27.810.9
12 Executive Airlines## 744 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Total 50,191 50,458 50,318 50,416 52,676 5.04.5
Notes: 

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

# Effective the end of December 2016, Republic and Shuttle America combined operations and Shuttle America ceased operating. Effective the end of December 2014, Shuttle America and Chautauqua Airlines combined operations and Chautauqua ceased operating.

## Effective the end of March 2013, Executive 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.                                                                           

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics