USA Banner

Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

U.S. Cargo and Passenger Airlines Lost 1,492 Jobs in December 2023; Employment Remains 8.4% Above Pre-Pandemic December 2019

Monday, February 12, 2024

BTS 09-24


December 2023 Airline Employment Infographic

U.S. Airline Total Number of Employees (both Full-Time and Part-Time)

U.S. airline industry (passenger and cargo airlines combined) employment decreased to 812,698 workers in December 2023, 1,492 (0.18%) fewer workers than in November 2023 (814,190) and 63,208 (8.43%) more than in pre-pandemic December 2019 (749,490). 

U.S. scheduled-service passenger airlines employed 535,672 workers in December 2023 or 66% of the industry-wide total. Passenger airlines lost 242 employees in December 2023. Spirit Air Lines led scheduled passenger carriers, adding 667 employees; Delta Air Lines added 237, and United Air Lines added 171.

U.S. cargo airlines employed 272,380 workers in December 2023, 34% of the industry total. Cargo carriers lost 1,193 employees in December. FedEx, the leading air cargo employer, decreased employment by 498 jobs.


Line chart showing total U.S. airline industry employment in December 2021-2023


Scheduled passenger airlines lost 87 full-time equivalents in December 2023

U.S. Airline Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs)

BTS calculates FTEs by dividing the number of part-time employees by 2 and adding that figure to the number of full-time employees. The December 2023 industry-wide numbers include 697,558 full-time and 115,140 part-time workers for a total of 755,128 FTEs, a decrease from November of 1,551 FTEs (0.20%). December 2023’s total number of FTEs remains just 9.39% above pre-pandemic December 2019’s 690,313 FTEs.

The 26 U.S. scheduled passenger airlines reporting data for December 2023 employed 509,048 FTEs, 87 FTEs (0.02%) fewer than in November 2023. December 2023’s total number of scheduled passenger airline FTEs is 55,385 FTEs (12.21%) above pre-pandemic December 2019. Data by passenger carrier category can be found in the accompanying tables.

U.S. cargo airlines employed 241,562 FTEs in December 2023, down 1,392 FTEs (0.57%) from November 2023. U.S. cargo airlines have increased FTEs by 9,209 (3.96%) since pre-pandemic December 2019.


Line chart showing employees at U.S. scheduled passenger airlines in month December 1990-2023

Reporting Notes

Data are compiled from monthly reports filed with BTS by commercial air carriers as of February 6, 2024. Additional airline employment data and previous releases can be found on the BTS website. The month-to-month numbers are not seasonally adjusted.

Passenger, cargo, and charter 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. Regulations require U.S. airlines to report employment numbers for employees who worked or received pay for any part of the pay period(s) ending nearest the 15th day of the month.

See the tables that accompany this release on the BTS website for detailed data (Tables 1-15) and industry summary monthly data since 1990. Additional individual airline numbers are available on the BTS airline employment web page. The web page provides full-time and part-time employment numbers by carrier by month from 1990 through December 2023.

Missing carriers: AMQ (Ameristar Air Cargo), GFQ (Gulf And Caribbean Cargo) and U7 (USA Jet Airlines). The next update for U.S. airline employment is scheduled for Monday, March 18, 2024.