U.S. Airline Employment Trends

January 2017 U.S. Passenger Airline Employment Data

U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 3.9 percent more workers in January 2017 than in January 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. January was the highest monthly FTE total (417,833) since November 2007 (419,313) and was the 39th 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). 

U.S. Scheduled Passenger Airline Employment Percent Change from Previous Year (Last 24 months)

Graph - U.S. Scheduled Passenger Airline Employment Percent Change from Previous Year (Last 24 months)

Month-to-month, the number of FTEs rose 0.4 percent from December to January (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 two-thirds of the scheduled passenger airline FTEs reported 2.3 percent more FTEs in January 2017 than in January 2016 (Tables 7, 8, 9). Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines increased FTEs from January 2016 (Table 9). Month-to-month, the number of network airline FTEs declined 0.1 percent from December to January (Table 1A).

The network airlines employed 7.1 percent more FTEs in January 2017 than in January 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 9.7 percent more FTEs in January 2017 than in January 2016 (Tables 10, 11, 12). The carriers – Allegiant Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Virgin America and Southwest Airlines – all increased FTEs from January 2016 (Table 12). Month-to-month, the number of low-cost airline FTEs was rose 1.0 percent from December to January (Table 1A).  The six low-cost airlines employed 24.2 percent more FTEs in January 2017 than in January 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 1.9 percent more FTEs in January 2017 than the 12 regional carriers operating in January 2016 (Tables 13, 14, 15). Nine regional airlines – Compass Airlines, Endeavor Air, PSA Airlines, Mesa Airlines, GoJet Airlines, SkyWest Airlines, Envoy Air and Horizon Air – increased FTEs from January 2016. In addition, Republic Airlines reported 2.0 percent more FTEs in January 2017 than the combined total that Republic and Shuttle America reported in January 2016. The others reported decreases (Table 15). Month-to-month, the number of regional airline FTEs rose 1.6 percent from December to January (Table 1A). The 11 regional carriers reporting in January 2017 employed 1.6 percent more FTEs than the 14 carriers reporting in January 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 65.2 percent of the 417,833 FTEs employed by all scheduled passenger airlines in January, the six low-cost carriers employed 20.7 percent and the 11 regional carriers employed 12.3 percent (Table 4). In comparison, in January 2006, the network airlines employed 66.6 percent of the FTEs, the six low-cost carriers employed 16.7 percent and the regional carriers employed 13.6 percent (Table 5). 

Top Employers by Group: American employed the most FTEs (99,490) in January among the network airlines, Southwest employed the most FTEs (54,051) among low-cost airlines, and Envoy employed the most FTEs (11,059) among regional airlines (Table 6). The three airlines with the most FTEs in January – American, Delta and United – employed 62.4 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 and Island Air Hawaii. 

Data are compiled from monthly reports filed with BTS by commercial air carriers as of March 7. Additional airline employment data and previous press releasescan be found on the BTS website. BTS has scheduled release of January passenger airline employment data for April 20.  

 

TABLE 1: YEARLY CHANGE IN SCHEDULED PASSENGER AIRLINE FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT EMPLOYEES* BY AIRLINE GROUP

Most recent 13 months - percent change from same month of the previous year

 Network AirlinesLow-Cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesAll Passenger Airlines**
Jan 2015-Jan 2016 3.3 7.9 2.0 4.1
Feb 2015-Feb 2016 3.2 8.5 0.2 3.8
Mar 2015-Mar 2016 2.9 9.6 0.1 3.9
Apr 2015-Apr 2016 2.4 10.2 0.1 3.7
May 2015-May 2016 2.3 10.7 0.2 3.7
June 2015-Jun 2016 2.3 11.0 0.9 3.9
July 2015-July 2016 2.4 11.3 3.3 4.4
Aug 2015-Aug 2016 2.5 11.0 3.3 4.4
Sep 2015-Sep 2016 2.6 10.6 2.9 4.4
Oct 2015-Oct 2016 2.7 10.3 0.3 4.0
Nov 2015-Nov 2016 2.3 9.8 0.2 3.6
Dec 2015-Dec 2016 2.4 9.5 0.2 3.7
Jan 2016-Jan 2017 2.3 9.7 1.9 3.9

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**
Jan 2016-Feb 2016 0.3 1.2 -0.1 0.4
Feb 2016-Mar 2016 0.5 0.8 0.0 0.5
Mar 2016-Apr 2016 0.3 1.2 -0.1 0.4
Apr 2016-May2016 0.5 1.1 0.4 0.6
May 2016-Jun2016 0.3 0.9 0.5 0.5
Jun 2016-July 2016 0.2 0.8 0.4 0.3
July 2016-Aug 2016 0.1 0.4 -0.1 0.1
Aug 2016-Sep 2016 0.0 0.5 -0.5 0.1
Sep 2016-Oct 2016 0.2 0.9 -0.1 0.3
Oct 2016-Nov 2016 -0.2 0.5 0.0 0.0
Nov 2016-Dec 2016 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.1
Dec 2016-Jan 2017 -0.1 1.0 1.6 0.4

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

Month2014201520162017
January 0.4 1.2 4.1 3.9
February 0.3 1.8 3.8  
March 0.6 1.9 3.9  
April 0.8 2.4 3.7  
May 1.1 2.6 3.7  
June 0.9 3.1 3.9  
July 1.3 2.7 4.4  
August 0.9 3.3 4.4  
September 1.0 3.3 4.4  
October 0.8 4.0 4.0  
November 1.3 3.8 3.6  
December 1.3 3.9 3.7  

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 2013-2017

Month20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013-20172016-2017
January 380,042 381,819 386,528 402,208 417,833 9.9 3.9
February 380,414 381,985 388,976 403,917      
March 380,540 383,575 390,817 406,113      
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 380,807 384,630 395,487 411,132      

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*, JANUARY 2013-2017

 NetworkLow-CostRegionalAll Passenger Airlines**
2013 254,377 69,465 50,640 380,042
2014 255,518 69,693 50,425 381,819
2015 257,627 72,909 49,477 386,528
2016 266,245 78,638 50,482 402,208
2017 272,407 86,287 51,430 417,833
Percent of Total Passenger Airline Employees in 2017 65.2% 20.7% 12.3% 100.0%

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 2006-2017

(January of each year)

 NetworkLow-CostRegionalOther
2006 66.6 16.7 13.6 3.1
2012 67.5 17.7 13.6 1.2
2016 66.2 19.6 12.6 1.7
2017 65.2 20.7 12.3 1.8

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, JANUARY 2017

Ranked by Number of Full-Time Equivalent Employees*

RankAirlineTotal FTE EmployeesCarrier Group**Top 10 Airlines January 2016
1 American 99,490 Network American
2 United 82,146 Network Delta
3 Delta 79,157 Network United
4 Southwest 54,051 Low-Cost Southwest
5 JetBlue 16,789 Low-Cost JetBlue
6 Alaska 11,614 Network Alaska
7 Envoy 11,059 Regional Envoy
8 SkyWest 10,985 Regional SkyWest
9 ExpressJet 6,233 Regional ExpressJet
10 Hawaiian 5,600 Other Spirit

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

 2014201520162017
January 0.4 0.8 3.3 2.3
February 0.1 1.4 3.2  
March 0.6 1.7 2.9  
April 0.4 2.4 2.4  
May 0.5 2.7 2.3  
June 0.3 3.1 2.3  
July 0.4 3.1 2.4  
August 0.1 3.7 2.5  
September 0.4 3.6 2.6  
October 0.3 3.6 2.7  
November 0.4 3.7 2.3  
December 0.8 3.5 2.4  

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 2013-2017

Month20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013-20172016-2017
January 254,377 255,518 257,627 266,245 272,407 7.1 2.3
February 254,955 255,158 258,796 266,987      
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      

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*, JANUARY 2013-2017

(FTEs for January of each year. Ranked by January 2017 FTEs)

RankAirline20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013-20172016-2017
1 AA/US Combined 89,744  91,260  93,013  97,509  99,490  10.9 2.0
  American** 59,426 59,686 60,999 97,509 99,490 N/A 2.0
  US Airways** 30,318 31,574 32,014 N/A N/A N/A N/A
2 United 82,209 81,368 78,401 79,067 82,146 -0.1 3.9
3 Delta 73,174 73,372 76,011 78,713 79,157 8.2 0.6
4 Alaska 9,250 9,518 10,202 10,956 11,614 25.6 6.0
  Total 254,377  255,518  257,627  266,245  272,407  7.1 2.3

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* 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.

 

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

Month2014201520162017
January 0.3 4.6 7.9 9.7
February 0.7 4.6 8.5  
March 0.8 3.9 9.6  
April 1.5 4.2 10.2  
May 1.8 4.3 10.7  
June 2.2 4.9 11.0  
July 2.5 5.2 11.3  
August 3.0 5.8 11.0  
September 2.9 6.6 10.6  
October 3.8 6.9 10.3  
November 5.2 6.5 9.8  
December 4.4 7.8 9.5  

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 2013-2017

 20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013-20172016-2017
January 69,465 69,693 72,909 78,638 86,287 24.2 9.7
February 69,630 70,135 73,351 79,578      
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 84,945      
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 82,656      

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*, JANUARY 2013-2017

(FTEs for January of each year. Ranked by January 2017 FTEs)

Rank 20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013-20172016-2017
1 Southwest 45,835 44,983 46,588 49,981 54,051 17.9 8.1
2 JetBlue 12,593 13,119 13,751 15,255 16,789 33.3 10.1
3 Spirit 2,992 3,604 4,033 4,808 5,642 88.6 17.3
4 Allegiant 1,808 2,080 2,397 2,894 3,429 89.7 18.5
5 Frontier 3,866 3,412 3,612 2,962 3,414 -11.7 15.3
6 Virgin America 2,371 2,495 2,528 2,738 2,962 24.9 8.2
  Total 69,465  69,693  72,909  78,638  86,287  24.2 9.7

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 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

Month2014201520162017
January -0.4 -1.9 2.0 1.9
February 0.5 -0.3 0.2  
March 0.9 -0.5 0.4  
April 2.3 -0.4 0.1  
May 2.4 -0.3 0.2  
June 1.9 0.1 0.9  
July 3.5 -3.3 3.3  
August 2.5 -2.7 3.3  
September 2.1 -2.7 2.9  
October -0.2 1.4 0.3  
November 1.5 -0.2 0.2  
December -0.2 0.9 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 2013-2017

 20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013-20172016-2017
January 50,640 50,425 49,477 50,482 51,430 1.6 1.9
February 50,191 50,458 50,318 50,416      
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      

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*, JANUARY 2013-2017

(FTEs for January of each year. Ranked by January 2017 FTEs)

Rank 20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013-20172016-2017
1 Envoy 11,324 11,017 10,693 10,657 11,059 -2.3 3.8
2 SkyWest 9,400 9,816 9,700 10,438 10,985 16.9 5.2
3 ExpressJet 8,832 9,178 8,525 7,325 6,233 -29.4 -14.9
4 YX/S5/RP Combined 5,444  5,886  5,904  5,410  5,516  1.3 2.0
  Republic# 2,160 2,747 3,141 3,133 5,516 155.4 76.1
  Shuttle America# 2,035 1,977 2,763 2,277 N/A N/A N/A
  Chautauqua# 1,249 1,162 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
5 Endeavor 4,902 3,911 3,383 3,321 3,811 -22.3 14.8
6 Horizon 2,706 2,795 2,881 3,277 3,287 21.5 0.3
7 Mesa 1,542 1,817 2,272 2,828 3,074 99.4 8.7
8 PSA 1,078 1,166 1,799 2,496 2,815 161.1 12.8
9 Compass 1,097 1,196 1,294 1,653 1,934 76.3 17.0
10 Air Wisconsin 2,535 2,512 1,914 1,840 1,401 -44.7 -23.9
11 GoJet 1,019 1,131 1,112 1,237 1,315 29.0 6.3
12 Executive## 761 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
  Total 50,640  50,425  49,477  50,482  51,430  1.6 1.9

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* 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.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Logos, product and company names mentioned are the property of their respective owners.