Employment

October 2015 U.S. Passenger Airline Employment Data

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 3.7 percent more workers in October 2015 than in October 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. October was the 23rd consecutive month that full-time equivalent (FTE) employment for U.S. scheduled passenger airlines exceeded the same month of the previous year and was the highest monthly total (398,810) since August 2008 (Tables 1, 2, 3).

Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-Time Equivalent Employees,

Month of October, 1990-2015

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

Month-to-month, the number of FTEs rose 0.4 percent from September to October, rising for the third consecutive month (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 3.6 percent more FTEs in October 2015 than in October 2014 (Table 7). Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines increased FTEs from October 2014 while United Airlines’ FTEs were virtually unchanged (Table 9). American Airlines, which has merged with US Airways, reported 5.2 percent more FTEs in October 2015 than American and US Airways reported separately in October 2014. July 2015 was the first month for which the two merged airlines submitted a combined report. Month-to-month, the number of network airline FTEs was up 0.1 percent from September to October (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 6.7 percent more FTEs in October 2015 than in October 2014 (Table 10). Spirit Airlines, Allegiant Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Virgin America and Southwest Airlines reported increases while Frontier Airlines reduced FTEs (Table 12). Month-to-month, the number of low-cost airline FTEs rose 1.1 percent from September to October, rising for the seventh consecutive month (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 0.6 percent fewer FTEs in October 2015 than in October 2014 (Table 13). Seven regional airlines – PSA Airlines, Compass Airlines, Mesa Airlines, Horizon Air, GoJet Airlines, SkyWest Airlines and Republic Airlines – reported increased employment levels. The others reported decreases (Table 15). Month-to-month, the number of regional airline FTEs rose 0.6 percent from September to October after four consecutive monthly decreases (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 four network airlines employed 66.6 percent of the 398,810 FTEs employed by all scheduled passenger airlines in October, the six low-cost carriers employed 19.3 percent and the 12 regional carriers employed 12.4 percent (Table 4). The three airlines with the most FTEs in October – American, Delta and United– employed 63.9 percent of the month’s total passenger airline FTEs (Tables 3, 6). From 2006 to 2015, the network share of FTEs rose from 65.2 percent to 66.6 percent, the low-cost share rose from 17.6 percent to 19.3 percent and the regional airline share dropped from 13.9 percent to 12.4 percent (Table 5).

Top Employers by Group: American employed the most FTEs (96,873) in October among the network airlines, Southwest employed the most FTEs (49,167) among low-cost airlines, and SkyWest employed the most FTEs (10,186) among regional airlines. The top three 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. American and US Airways began reporting jointly with the report of July employment numbers. The airlines announced a merger in January 2013.

Network Airlines

The network airlines employed 3.6 percent more FTEs in October 2015 than in October 2014 and 2.2 percent more FTEs in October 2015 than in October 2011 (Tables 8, 9).

Low-Cost Airlines

The six low-cost airlines employed 6.7 percent more FTEs in October 2015 than in October 2014 and 12.7 percent more FTEs in October 2015 than in October 2011 (Tables 11, 12).

Regional Airlines

Regional airlines employed 0.6 percent fewer FTEs in October 2015 than in October 2014.  The 12 regional carriers reporting in October 2015 employed 7.5 percent fewer FTEs in October 2015 than the 17 carriers reporting in October 2011 (Tables 14, 15).

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 Dec. 8. Additional airline employment data and previous press releases can be found on the BTS website. BTS has scheduled release of October passenger airline employment data for Jan. 22.  

 

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**
Oct 2013-Oct 2014 0.3 3.8 -0.2 0.9
Nov 2013-Nov 2014 0.4 5.2 1.5 1.5
Dec 2013-Dec 2014 0.8 4.4 -0.2 1.4
Jan 2014-Jan 2015 0.8 4.6 -1.9 1.2
Feb 2014-Feb 2015 1.4 4.6 -0.3 1.8
Mar 2014-Mar 2015 1.7 4.0 -0.5 1.9
Apr 2014-Apr 2015 2.4 4.2 -0.4 2.4
May 2014-May 2015 2.7 4.3 -0.3 2.6
Jun 2014-Jun 2015 3.1 4.9 0.1 3.0
Jul 2014-Jul 2015 3.1 5.2 -3.3 2.7
Aug 2014-Aug 2015 3.7 5.8 -2.7 3.3
Sep 2014-Sep 2015 3.6 6.5 -2.7 3.3
Oct 2014-Oct 2015 3.6 6.7 -0.6 3.7

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**
Oct 2014- Nov 2014 0.2 1.3 1.6 0.6
Nov 2014-Dec 2014 0.2 -0.8 -1.0 -0.2
Dec 2014-Jan 2015 0.1 0.7 -1.2 0.1
Jan 2015-Feb 2015 0.5 0.6 1.7 0.6
Feb 2015-Mar 2015 0.8 -0.2 0.1 0.5
Mar 2015-Apr 2015 0.8 1.7 -0.1 0.7
Apr 2015-May 2015 0.6 0.6 0.3 0.6
May 2015-Jun 2015 0.4 0.6 -0.2 0.3
Jun 2015-Jul 2015 0.0 0.5 -1.8 -0.1
Jul 2015-Aug 2015 0.0 0.7 -0.2 0.1
Aug 2015-Sep 2015 -0.1 0.7 -0.2 0.1
Sep 2015-Oct 2015 0.1 1.1 0.6 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

Month2012201320142015
January 2.1 -2.3 0.5 1.2
February 2.1 -2.5 0.4 1.8
March 2.1 -2.7 0.8 1.9
April 1.8 -2.4 1.0 2.6
May 1.6 -2.5 1.1 2.6
June 1.1 -2.4 0.9 3.0
July 1.4 -2.6 1.3 2.7
August 0.6 -2.2 1.0 3.3
September 0.2 -1.6 1.1 3.3
October -1.3 -0.8 0.9 3.7
November -2.0 -0.1 1.5  
December -2.6 0.3 1.4  

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 2011-2015

Month20112012201320142015Percent Change
2011-20152014-2015
January 380,949 388,778 380,042 381,819 386,559 1.5 1.2
February 381,831 389,901 380,375 381,985 388,983 1.9 1.8
March 387,063 390,761 380,536 383,575 390,841 1.0 1.9
April 383,721 390,243 380,957 384,265 393,446 2.5 2.4
May 385,027 390,957 381,423 385,619 395,626 2.8 2.6
June 386,844 390,923 381,672 385,243 396,973 2.6 3.0
July 387,240 391,286 381,299 386,243 396,503 2.4 2.7
August 386,783 389,000 380,564 384,478 397,007 2.6 3.3
September 385,548 386,372 380,165 384,501 397,226 3.0 3.3
October 389,444 384,310 381,178 384,700 398,810 2.4 3.7
November 389,361 381,639 381,224 386,912      
December 389,728 379,576 380,809 386,222      
12-Month Average 386,128 387,812 380,854 384,630      
Jan-Oct Average 385,445 389,253 380,821 384,243 394,197 2.3 2.6

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*, October 2011-2015

 NetworkLow-CostRegionalAll Passenger Airlines**
2011 260,056 68,269 53,494 386,371
2012 259,245 69,551 50,305 384,310
2013 255,741 69,496 49,890 381,178
2014 256,409 72,110 49,789 384,700
2015 265,704 76,927 49,504 398,810
Percent of Total Passenger Airline Employees in 2015 66.6% 19.3% 12.4% 100%

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 2006-2015

(October of each year)

 NetworkLow-CostRegionalOther
2006 65.2 17.6 13.9 3.3
2010 67.7 17.0 13.9 1.5
2014 66.7 18.7 12.9 1.7
2015 66.6 19.3 12.4 1.7

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, October2015

Ranked by Number of Full-Time Equivalent Employees*

RankAirlineTotal FTE EmployeesCarrier Group**Top 10 Airlines October2014
1 American 96,873 Network United
2 Delta 79,406 Network Delta
3 United 78,476 Network American
4 Southwest 49,167 Low-Cost Southwest
5 JetBlue 15,014 Low-Cost US Airways
6 Alaska 10,949 Network JetBlue
7 SkyWest 10,186 Regional Envoy
8 Envoy 9,656 Regional Alaska
9 ExpressJet 7,615 Regional SkyWest
10 Spirit 4,530 Low-Cost ExpressJet

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

 2012201320142015
January 1.5 -3.1 0.4 0.8
February 1.2 -3.0 0.1 1.4
March 1.2 -3.3 0.6 1.7
April 1.3 -3.0 0.4 2.4
May 1.3 -3.0 0.5 2.7
June 0.8 -2.8 0.3 3.1
July 0.6 -2.8 0.4 3.1
August 0.4 -2.5 0.1 3.7
September 0.3 -2.1 0.4 3.6
October -1.4 -1.4 0.3 3.6
November -2.4 -0.4 0.4  
December -3.3 0.4 0.8  

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 2011-2015

Month20112012201320142015Percent Change
2011-20152014-2015
January 258,889 262,561 254,377 255,518 257,627 -0.5 0.8
February 259,816 262,788 254,955 255,158 258,796 -0.4 1.4
March 260,773 263,464 254,870 256,342 260,794 0.0 1.7
April 260,649 263,666 255,673 256,732 262,905 0.9 2.4
May 261,154 264,183 256,272 257,578 264,438 1.3 2.7
June 262,145 264,301 256,791 257,491 265,486 1.3 3.1
July 262,208 263,793 256,474 257,541 265,551 1.3 3.1
August 261,316 262,428 255,800 256,095 265,567 1.6 3.7
September 259,782 260,651 255,194 256,133 265,315 2.1 3.6
October 260,056 259,245 255,741 256,409 265,704 2.2 3.6
November 263,129 256,836 255,914 256,823      
December 262,617 254,065 255,155 257,251      
12-Month Average 261,045 261,498 255,601 256,589      
Jan-Oct Average 260,679 262,708 255,615 256,500 263,218 1.0 2.6

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*, October 2011-2015

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

RankAirline20112012201320142015Percent Change
2011-20152014-2015
1 AA/US Combined 97,080 93,066 90,613 92,095 96,873 -0.2 5.2
  American** 66,476 62,700 59,249 60,461 96,873 N/A N/A
  US Airways** 30,604 30,366 31,364 31,634 N/A N/A N/A
2 Delta 73,364 74,663 73,492 75,776 79,406 8.2 4.8
3 UA/CO Combined 80,699 82,312 82,141 78,448 78,476 -2.8 0.0
  United*** 43,622 82,312 82,141 78,448 78,476 N/A 0.0
  Continental*** 37,077 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
4 Alaska 8,913 9,205 9,495 10,090 10,949 22.8 8.5
  Total 260,056 259,246 255,741 256,409 265,704 2.2 3.6

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.

*** 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
January 5.7 1.1 0.3 4.6
February 6.4 0.2 0.7 4.6
March 7.1 -0.1 0.8 4.0
April 5.7 -0.3 1.5 4.2
May 5.3 -0.3 1.8 4.3
June 4.0 -0.6 5.0 4.9
July 3.5 -0.4 2.5 5.2
August 2.5 0.0 3.0 5.8
September 2.5 -0.2 2.9 6.5
October 1.9 -0.1 3.8 6.7
November 1.4 -0.1 5.2  
December 1.3 -0.6 4.4  

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 2011-2015

 20112012201320142015Percent Change
2011-20152014-2015
January 64,978 68,684 69,464 69,693 72,909 12.2 4.6
February 65,323 69,473 69,595 70,135 73,351 12.3 4.6
March 65,467 69,886 69,853 70,384 73,180 11.8 4.0
April 66,117 69,861 69,675 70,751 73,695 11.5 4.2
May 66,555 70,053 69,817 71,095 74,167 11.4 4.3
June 67,263 69,969 69,574 71,074 74,592 10.9 4.9
July 67,375 69,756 69,510 71,272 74,999 11.3 5.2
August 67,683 69,380 69,364 71,387 75,549 11.6 5.8
September 67,876 69,575 69,426 71,428 76,076 12.1 6.5
October 68,269 69,551 69,496 72,110 76,927 12.7 6.7
November 68,450 69,441 69,402 73,014      
December 68,887 69,781 69,365 72,399      
12-Month Average 67,020 69,618 69,545 71,229      
Jan-Oct Average 66,691 69,619 69,577 70,933 74,545 11.8 5.1

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*, October 2011-2015

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

Rank 20112012201320142015Percent Change
2011-20152014-2015
1 WN/FL Combined 45,306  46,015 45,074 46,095 49,167 8.5 6.7
  Southwest** 37,349 46,015 45,074 46,095 49,167 N/A 6.7
  AirTran 7,957 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
2 JetBlue 12,108 12,506 12,993 13,598 15,014 24.0 10.4
3 Spirit 2,401 2,812 3,487 3,859 4,530 88.7 17.4
4 Frontier 4,835 4,007 3,437 3,703 2,769 -42.7 -25.2
5 Virgin America 2,056 2,433 2,496 2,520 2,710 31.8 7.5
6 Allegiant 1,563 1,779 2,009 2,335 2,737 75.1 17.2
  Total 68,269 69,552 69,496 72,110 76,927 12.7 6.7

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* 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
January 0.1 -4.1 -0.4 -1.9
February 0.8 -5.0 0.5 -0.3
March 0.2 -4.6 0.9 -0.5
April -1.5 -3.8 2.3 -0.4
May -2.2 -4.5 2.4 -0.3
June -2.5 -4.4 1.9 0.1
July -0.9 -6.3 3.5 -3.3
August -2.3 -5.1 2.5 -2.7
September -4.3 -3.0 1.9 -2.7
October -6.0 -0.8 -0.2 -0.6
November -5.4 -0.5 1.5  
December -5.4 -0.5 -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 2011-2015

 20112012201320142015Percent Change
2011-20152014-2015
January 52,764 52,796 50,640 50,425 49,484 -6.2 -1.9
February 52,413 52,831 50,188 50,458 50,325 -4.0 -0.3
March 52,470 52,581 50,180 50,623 50,368 -4.0 -0.5
April 52,601 51,811 49,861 50,526 50,333 -4.3 -0.4
May 52,933 51,746 49,478 50,633 50,474 -4.6 -0.3
June 52,987 51,664 49,415 50,336 50,373 -4.9 0.1
July 53,201 52,715 49,387 51,107 49,403 -7.1 -3.3
August 53,288 52,082 49,434 50,671 49,320 -7.4 -2.7
September 53,363 51,085 49,546 50,574 49,231 -7.7 -2.7
October 53,494 50,305 49,890 49,789 49,504 -7.5 -0.6
November 52,954 50,100 49,851 50,605      
December 53,328 50,426 50,191 50,083      
12-Month Average 52,983 51,679 49,838 50,486      
Jan-Oct Average 52,951 51,962 49,802 50,514 49,882 -5.8 -1.3

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*, October 2011-2015

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

Rank 20112012201320142015Percent Change
2011-20152014-2015
1 SkyWest 9,414 9,227 9,538 9,484 10,186 8.2 7.4
2 Envoy 10,184 10,441 11,144 11,035 9,656 -5.2 -12.5
3 XE/EV Combined 9,296 8,935 9,086 8,945 7,615 -18.1 -14.9
  ExpressJet** 5,427 8,935 9,086 8,945 7,615 N/A -14.9
  Atlantic Southeast** 3,869 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
4 9E/XJ Combined 5,710 4,750 4,052 3,609 3,275 -42.6 -9.3
  Endeavor*** 3,758 4,750 4,052 3,609 3,275 N/A -9.3
  Mesaba*** 1,952 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
5 Horizon 2,838 2,732 2,719 2,834 3,235 14.0 14.1
6 Republic 2,028 2,057 2,600 3,043 3,103 53.0 2.0
7 Mesa 1,840 1,643 1,770 2,142 2,740 48.9 27.9
8 S5/RP Combined 1,581 3,212 3,180 2,807 2,539 60.6 -9.5
  Shuttle America# 1,581 1,890 2,013 1,976 2,539 60.6 N/A
  Chautauqua# NA 1,322 1,167 831 N/A N/A N/A
9 PSA 1,040 1,089 1,097 1,636 2,356 126.5 44.0
10 Air Wisconsin 2,555 2,544 2,455 1,966 1,862 -27.1 -5.3
11 Compass 1,026 1,135 1,153 1,174 1,682 63.9 43.3
12 GoJet 611 1,036 1,096 1,114 1,255 105.4 12.7
13 Executive## 1,799 1,330 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
14 Colgan### 1,580 64 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
15 Comair#### 1,992 114 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
  Total 53,494 50,309 49,890 49,789 49,504 -7.5 -0.6

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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

** 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. Chautauqua did not qualify for monthly reporting prior to July 2012 because it did not operate aircraft with more than 60 seats. 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.

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.



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