Passenger Airline Employment

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January 2018 Passenger Airline Employment Data

Release Number: 
BTS 14-18

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U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 3.2 percent more workers in January 2018 than in January 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. January was the highest monthly full-time equivalent (FTE) employment total (431,308 FTEs) since December 2004 (436,909 FTE) and was the 51st consecutive month that U.S. scheduled passenger airline FTEs exceeded the same month of the previous year (Tables 1, 2, 3).

January FTEs in thousands (000)
January FTEs in thousands (000)
1990444.9
1991442.6
1992441.1
1993441.0
1994437.5
1995427.2
1996435.9
1997445.7
1998459.3
1999482.2
2000508.5
2001532.1
2002464.0
2003466.9
2004436.1
2005430.8
2006405.2
2007403.7
2008415.1
2009390.6
2010379.3
2011381.2
2012386.4
2013380.0
2014381.8
2015386.5
2016402.3
2017417.8
2018431.3
Notes: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Source: 

FTE calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

Month-to-month, the number of FTEs rose 0.2 percent from December to January (Table 1A). The scheduled passenger airlines employed 13.0 percent more FTEs in January 2018 than in January 2014, an increase of 49,489 FTEs (Table 3). 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 65.2 percent of the scheduled passenger airline FTEs reported 3.2 percent more FTEs in January 2018 than in January 2017, an increase of 8,731 FTEs (Tables 7, 8, 9). Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines increased FTEs from January 2017. Month-to-month, the number of network airline FTEs rose 1.1 percent from December to January (Table 1A).

The network airlines employed 10.0 percent more FTEs in January 2018 than in January 2014, an increase of 25,620 FTEs (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 2.6 percent more FTEs in January 2018 than in January 2017, an increase of 2,215 FTEs (Tables 10, 11, 12). Spirit Airlines, Allegiant Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines increased FTEs from January 2017 (Tables 12).

Month-to-month, the number of low-cost airline FTEs fell 2.7 percent from December to January (Table 1A). The six low-cost airlines employed 27.0 percent more FTEs in January 2018 than in January 2014, an increase of 18,809 FTEs (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 4.6 percent more FTEs in January 2018 than in January 2017, an increase of 2,388 FTEs (Tables 13, 14, 15). Seven regional airlines – PSA Airlines, Envoy Air, SkyWest Airlines, Endeavor Air, Horizon Air, Mesa Airlines and Air Wisconsin increased FTEs from January 2017. ExpressJet Airlines, Compass Airlines, GoJet Airlines and Republic Airlines reported a decrease (Table 15). Month-to-month, the number of regional airline FTEs rose 0.3 percent from December to January (Table 1A). The 11 regional carriers reporting in January 2018 employed 6.7 percent more FTEs in January 2018 than the 15 carriers reporting in January 2014, an increase of 3,393 FTEs (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 65.2 percent of the 431,308 FTEs employed by all scheduled passenger airlines in January, the six low-cost carriers employed 20.5 percent and the 11 regional carriers employed 12.5 percent (Table 4). In comparison, in January 2007, network airlines employed 64.9 percent, six low-cost carriers employed 17.8 percent and regional carriers employed 15.2 (Table5).

Top Employers by Group: American employed the most FTEs (100,832) in January among the network airlines, Southwest employed the most FTEs (56,527) among low-cost airlines, and Envoy employed the most FTEs (12,525) among regional airlines. The three airlines with the most FTEs in January – American, United and Delta – employed 61.4 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.                             

Data are compiled from monthly reports filed with BTS by commercial air carriers as of March 5.  Additional airline employment data and previous press releases can be found on the BTS website.  BTS has scheduled release of February passenger airline employment data for April 19.

Most recent 13 months - percent change from same month of the previous year
Network AirlinesLow-Cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesOther AirlinesAll Passenger Airlines **
Jan 2016 - Jan 20172.39.71.812.73.9
Feb 2016 - Feb 20172.49.42.411.83.9
Mar 2016 - Mar 20172.79.12.011.74.0
Apr 2016 - Apr 20172.68.82.110.73.9
May 2016 - May 20172.48.32.59.83.7
Jun 2016 - Jun 20172.58.02.69.43.8
Jul 2016 - Jul 20172.37.32.78.53.5
Aug 2016 - Aug 20172.27.03.38.43.4
Sep 2016 - Sep 20172.16.84.36.73.4
Oct 2016 - Oct 20172.16.75.21.83.4
Nov 2016 - Nov 20172.06.55.40.93.3
Dec 2016 - Dec 20172.06.56.01.53.4
Jan 2017 - Jan 20183.22.64.61.83.2
Notes: 
See Table 2 for all passenger airlines, Table 7 for Network, Table 10 for Low-Cost and Table 13 for Regional.
* 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.
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change in FTEs from the previous month
Network AirlinesLow-Cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesOther AirlinesAll Passenger Airlines **
Jan 2017 - Feb 20170.40.90.40.60.5
Feb 2017 - Mar 20170.80.6-0.30.60.6
Mar 2017 - Apr 20170.30.90.0-0.10.3
Apr 2017 - May 20170.30.60.70.80.5
May 2017 - Jun 20170.50.60.70.40.5
Jun 2017 - Jul 20170.00.20.50.10.1
Jul 2017 - Aug 2017-0.10.20.40.80.1
Aug 2017 - Sep 2017-0.10.40.5-0.10.1
Sep 2017 - Oct 20170.30.80.7-3.80.4
Oct 2017 - Nov 2017-0.20.30.20.5-0.1
Nov 2017 - Dec 20170.10.00.51.10.2
Dec 2017 - Jan 20181.1-2.70.30.80.2
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 and Sun Country Airlines.
Note: 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
Month2015201620172018
January1.24.13.9 3.2
February1.83.83.9
March1.93.94.0
April2.43.63.9
May2.63.73.7
June3.03.93.8
July2.74.33.5
August3.34.33.4
September3.34.33.4
October4.04.03.4
November3.73.73.3
December3.93.73.4
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

20142015201620172018Percent Change
2014 - 20182017 - 2018
January 381,819 386,528 402,270 417,833 431,308 13.0 3.2
February 381,985 388,976 403,917 419,762
March 383,575 390,817 405,983 422,278
April 384,265 393,439 407,763 423,747
May 385,619 395,621 410,338 425,656
June 385,243 396,973 412,333 427,818
July 386,243 396,503 413,746 428,209
August 384,478 397,007 414,242 428,455
September 384,501 397,326 414,558 428,673
October 384,700 399,928 415,979 430,232
November 386,912 401,280 416,046 429,946
December 386,222 401,440 416,337 430,607
12-Month Average 384,630 395,487 411,126 426,101
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**
2014 255,518 69,693 50,425 6,183 381,819
2015 257,627 72,909 49,477 6,515 386,528
2016 266,245 78,638 50,544 6,843 402,270
2017 272,407 86,287 51,430 7,709 417,833
2018 281,138 88,502 53,818 7,850 431,308
Percent of Total Passenger Airline Employees in 2018 65.2 20.5 12.5 1.8 100.0
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

YearNetwork AirlinesLow-Cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesOther Airlines
200764.917.815.22.1
201366.918.313.31.5
201765.220.712.31.8
201865.220.512.51.8
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

Ranked by Number of Full-Time Equivalent Employees*
RankAirlineTotal FTE EmployeesCarrier Group**Top 10 Airlines January 2017
1American 100,832 NetworkAmerican
2United 82,364 NetworkUnited
3Delta 81,487 NetworkDelta
4Southwest 56,527 Low-costSouthwest
5JetBlue 17,823 Low-costJetBlue
6Alaska 16,455 NetworkAlaska
7Envoy 12,525 RegionalEnvoy
8SkyWest 12,414 RegionalSkywest
9Spirit 6,677 Low-costExpressJet
10Hawaiian 6,090 OtherSpirit
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
2015201620172018
January0.83.32.3 3.2
February1.43.22.4
March1.72.92.7
April2.42.42.6
May2.72.32.4
June3.12.32.5
July3.12.42.3
August3.72.52.2
September3.62.62.1
October3.62.72.1
November3.72.32.0
December3.52.42.0
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

20142015201620172018Percent Change
2014 - 20182017 - 2018
January 255,518 257,627 266,245 272,407 281,138 10.0 3.2
February 255,158 258,796 266,987 273,365
March 256,342 260,794 268,375 275,503
April 256,732 262,905 269,169 276,225
May 257,578 264,438 270,559 277,135
June 257,491 265,486 271,503 278,390
July 257,541 265,551 271,963 278,325
August 256,095 265,567 272,112 278,158
September 256,133 265,315 272,136 277,804
October 256,409 265,704 272,787 278,565
November 256,823 266,251 272,347 277,885
December 257,251 266,136 272,614 278,176
12-Month Average 256,589 263,714 270,566 276,828
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

(FTEs for January of each year. Ranked by January 2018 FTEs)
RankCarrier20142015201620172018Percent Change
2014 - 20182017 - 2018
1American (+ US) 91,260 93,013 97,509 99,490 100,832 10.51.3
American 59,686 60,999 97,509 99,490 100,832 N/A 1.3
US Airways 31,574 32,014 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
2United 81,368 78,401 79,067 82,146 82,364 1.20.3
3Delta 73,372 76,011 78,713 79,157 81,487 11.12.9
4Alaska 9,518 10,202 10,956 11,614 16,455 72.941.7
Total 255,518 257,627 266,245 272,407 281,138 10.03.2
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
2015201620172018
January4.67.99.7 2.6
February4.68.59.4
March3.99.69.1
April4.210.28.8
May4.310.78.3
June4.911.08.0
July5.211.37.3
August5.811.07.0
September6.610.66.8
October6.910.36.7
November6.59.86.5
December7.89.56.5
Notes: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Source: 

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

20142015201620172018Percent Change
2014 - 20182017 - 2018
January 69,693 72,909 78,638 86,287 88,502 27.0 2.6
February 70,135 73,351 79,578 87,030
March 70,384 73,163 80,202 87,532
April 70,751 73,695 81,180 88,289
May 71,095 74,167 82,070 88,859
June 71,074 74,592 82,796 89,392
July 71,272 74,999 83,481 89,576
August 71,387 75,549 83,823 89,718
September 71,428 76,176 84,284 90,038
October 72,110 77,063 85,033 90,751
November 73,014 77,783 85,439 91,015
December 72,399 78,035 85,434 91,004
12-Month Average 71,229 75,124 82,663 89,124
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

(FTEs for January of each year. Ranked by January 2018 FTEs)
RankCarrier20142015201620172018Percent Change
2014 - 20182017 - 2018
1Southwest 44,983 46,588 49,981 54,051 56,527 25.74.6
2JetBlue 13,119 13,751 15,255 16,789 17,823 35.96.2
3Spirit 3,604 4,033 4,808 5,642 6,677 85.318.3
4Allegiant 2,080 2,397 2,894 3,429 3,749 80.29.3
5Frontier 3,412 3,612 2,962 3,414 3,726 9.29.1
6Virgin America 2,495 2,528 2,738 2,962 N/A N/A N/A
Total 69,693 72,909 78,638 86,287 88,502 27.02.6
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
Month2015201620172018
January-1.92.21.84.6
February-0.30.22.4
March-0.50.12.0
April-0.40.12.1
May-0.30.22.5
June0.10.92.6
July-3.33.32.7
August-2.73.33.3
September-2.72.94.3
October1.40.35.2
November-0.20.25.4
December0.90.26.0
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

20142015201620172018Percent Change
2014 - 20182017 - 2018
January 50,425 49,477 50,544 51,430 53,818 6.7 4.6
February 50,458 50,318 50,416 51,614
March 50,623 50,361 50,424 51,442
April 50,526 50,326 50,374 51,438
May 50,633 50,469 50,554 51,803
June 50,336 50,373 50,823 52,144
July 51,107 49,403 51,021 52,408
August 50,671 49,320 50,957 52,615
September 50,574 49,231 50,677 52,871
October 49,789 50,486 50,637 53,255
November 50,605 50,522 50,625 53,346
December 50,083 50,521 50,616 53,639
12-Month Average 50,486 50,067 50,639 52,334
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

(FTEs for January of each year. Ranked by January 2018 FTEs)
RankAirline20142015201620172018Percent Change
2014 - 2018 2017 - 2018
1Envoy 11,017 10,693 10,657 11,059 12,525 13.713.3
2SkyWest 9,816 9,700 10,438 10,985 12,414 26.513.0
3YX/S5/RP Combined# 5,886 5,904 5,410 5,516 5,425 -7.8-1.6
Republic 2,747 3,141 3,133 5,516 5,425 N/A N/A
Shuttle America 1,977 2,763 2,277 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Chautauqua 1,162 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
4Endeavor 3,911 3,383 3,321 3,811 4,246 8.611.4
5ExpressJet 9,178 8,525 7,325 6,233 4,234 -53.9-32.1
6Horizon 2,795 2,881 3,277 3,287 3,591 28.59.2
7PSA 1,166 1,799 2,496 2,815 3,519 201.825.0
8Mesa 1,817 2,272 2,828 3,074 3,231 77.85.1
9Compass 1,196 1,294 1,715 1,934 1,884 57.5-2.6
10Air Wisconsin 2,512 1,914 1,840 1,401 1,466 -41.64.6
11GoJet 1,131 1,112 1,237 1,315 1,283 13.4-2.4
Total 50,425 49,477 50,544 51,430 53,818 6.74.6
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.
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

Updated: Monday, March 19, 2018