U.S. Airline Employment Trends

November 2017 U.S. Passenger Airline Employment Data

U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 3.3 percent more workers in November 2017 than in November 2016, reaching 429,946 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported. November was the 49th consecutive month that U.S. scheduled passenger airline FTEs exceeded the same month of the previous year (Tables 1, 2, 3). 

Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-Time Equivalent Employees, Month of November, 1990-2017

FTEs in thousands (000)

Graph - Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-Time Equivalent Employees, Month of November, 1990-2017

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Month-to-month, the number of FTEs fell 0.1 percent from October to November (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 64.6 percent of the scheduled passenger airline FTEs reported 2.0 percent more FTEs in November 2017 than in November 2016 (Tables 7, 8, 9).  Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines increased FTEs from November 2016. Month-to-month, the number of network airline FTEs fell 0.2 percent from October to November (Table 1A). 

The network airlines employed 8.6 percent more FTEs in November 2017 than in November 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 6.5 percent more FTEs in November 2017 than in November 2016 (Tables 10, 11, 12). Spirit Airlines, Allegiant Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Virgin America, JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines increased FTEs from November 2016 (Table 12). Month-to-month, the number of low-cost airline FTEs rose 0.3 percent from October to November (Table 1A). The six low-cost airlines employed 31.1 percent more FTEs in November 2017 than in November 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 5.4 percent more FTEs in November 2017 than in November 2016 (Tables 13, 14, 15). Eight regional airlines – PSA Airlines, Envoy Air, SkyWest Airlines, Republic Airlines, Endeavor Air, Horizon Air, Mesa Airlines and GoJet Airlines increased FTEs from November 2016. ExpressJet Airlines, Compass Airlines and Air Wisconsin reported a decrease (Table 15). Month-to-month, the number of regional airline FTEs rose 0.2 percent from October to November (Table 1A). The 11 regional carriers reporting in November 2017 employed 7.0 percent more FTEs in November 2017 than the 15 carriers reporting in November 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 64.6 percent of the 429,946 FTEs employed by all scheduled passenger airlines in November, the six low-cost carriers employed 21.2 percent and the 11 regional carriers employed 12.4 percent (Table 4). In comparison, in November 2006, network airlines employed 65.2 percent, six low-cost carriers employed 17.8 percent and regional carriers employed 15.0 percent (Table 5).

Top Employers by Group:  American employed the most FTEs (100,668) in November among the network airlines, Southwest employed the most FTEs (56,067) among low-cost airlines, and Envoy employed the most FTEs (12,316) among regional airlines.  The three airlines with the most FTEs in November – American, United and Delta – employed 61.6 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 Jan. 9,  Additional airline employment data and previous press releases can be found on the BTS website.  BTS has scheduled release of December 2017 passenger airline employment data for Feb. 20.

 

Table 1: Yearly Change in Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Airline Group, November 2017

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

      
 Network AirlinesLow-Cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesOther AirlinesAll Passenger Airlines **
Nov 2015 - Nov 2016 2.3 9.8 0.2 13.5 3.7
Dec 2015 - Dec 2016 2.4 9.5 0.2 13.7 3.7
Jan 2016 - Jan 2017 2.3 9.7 1.8 12.7 3.9
Feb 2016 - Feb 2017 2.4 9.4 2.4 11.8 3.9
Mar 2016 - Mar 2017 2.7 9.1 2.0 11.7 4.0
Apr 2016 - Apr 2017 2.6 8.8 2.1 10.7 3.9
May 2016 - May 2017 2.4 8.3 2.5 9.8 3.7
Jun 2016 - Jun 2017 2.5 8.0 2.6 9.4 3.8
Jul 2016 - Jul 2017 2.3 7.3 2.7 8.5 3.5
Aug 2016 - Aug 2017 2.2 7.0 3.3 8.4 3.4
Sep 2016 - Sep 2017 2.1 6.8 4.3 6.7 3.4
Oct 2016 - Oct 2017 2.1 6.7 5.2 1.8 3.4
Nov 2016 - Nov 2017 2.0 6.5 5.4 0.9 3.3

Export Table DataNotes: * 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.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

Table 1A: Monthly Change in Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Airline Group, November 2017

Percent change in FTEs from the previous month

      
 NetworkLow-costRegionalOtherAll Passenger Airlines **
Nov 2016 - Dec 2016 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.5 0.1
Dec 2016 - Jan 2017 -0.1 1.0 1.6 0.5 0.4
Jan 2017 - Feb 2017 0.4 0.9 0.4 0.6 0.5
Feb 2017 - Mar 2017 0.8 0.6 -0.3 0.6 0.6
Mar 2017 - Apr 2017 0.3 0.9 0.0 -0.1 0.3
Apr 2017 - May 2017 0.3 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.5
May 2017 - Jun 2017 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.4 0.5
Jun 2017 - Jul 2017 0.0 0.2 0.5 0.1 0.1
Jul 2017 - Aug 2017 -0.1 0.2 0.4 0.8 0.1
Aug 2017 - Sep 2017 -0.1 0.4 0.5 -0.1 0.1
Sep 2017 - Oct 2017 0.3 0.8 0.7 -3.8 0.4
Oct 2017 - Nov 2017 -0.2 0.3 0.2 0.5 -0.1

Export Table DataNotes: * 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.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

Table 2: Change from Previous Year in Scheduled Passenger Airline* Full-time Equivalent Employees**, November 2017

Percent change compared to same month the previous year

     
Month2014201520162017
January 0.5 1.2 4.1 3.9
February 0.4 1.8 3.8 3.9
March 0.8 1.9 3.9 4.0
April 1.0 2.4 3.6 3.9
May 1.1 2.6 3.7 3.7
June 0.9 3.0 3.9 3.8
July 1.3 2.7 4.3 3.5
August 1.0 3.3 4.3 3.4
September 1.1 3.3 4.3 3.4
October 0.9 4.0 4.0 3.4
November 1.5 3.7 3.7 3.3
December 1.4 3.9 3.7  

Export Table DataNotes: * 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

Table 3: Scheduled Passenger Airline* Full-time Equivalent Employees** by Month 2013 - 2017, November 2017

        
      Percent Change 
  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2013 - 2017 2016 - 2017
January 380,042  381,819  386,528  402,270  417,833  9.9  3.9 
February 380,414  381,985  388,976  403,917  419,762  10.3  3.9 
March 380,540  383,575  390,817  405,983  422,278  11.0  4.0 
April 380,487  384,265  393,439  407,763  423,747  11.4  3.9 
May 381,372  385,619  395,621  410,338  425,656  11.6  3.7 
June 381,672  385,243  396,973  412,333  427,818  12.1  3.8 
July 381,299  386,243  396,503  413,746  428,209  12.3  3.5 
August 380,486  384,478  397,007  414,242  428,455  12.6  3.4 
September 380,165  384,501  397,326  414,558  428,673  12.8  3.4 
October 381,178  384,700  399,928  415,979  430,232  12.9  3.4 
November 381,224  386,912  401,280  416,046  429,946  12.8  3.3 
December 380,809  386,222  401,440  416,337       
Jan - Nov Average 380,807  384,485  394,945  410,652  425,692  11.8  3.7 
12-Month Average 380,807  384,630  395,487  411,126       

Export Table DataNotes: * 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

Table 4: Airline Group Full-time Equivalent Employees*, November 2013 - 2017

      
 Network AirlinesLow-Cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesOther AirlinesAll Passenger Airlines**
2013 255,914  69,402  49,851  6,057  381,224 
2014 256,823  73,014  50,605  6,470  386,912 
2015 266,251  77,783  50,522  6,724  401,280 
2016 272,347  85,439  50,625  7,635  416,046 
2017 277,885  91,015  53,346  7,700  429,946 
Percent of Total Passenger Airline Employees in 2017 64.6  21.2  12.4  1.8  100.0 

Export Table DataNotes: * 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

Table 5: Carrier Group Percent of Total Scheduled Passenger Airline FTEs*, November 2017 (November of each year)

     
YearNetwork AirlinesLow-Cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesOther Airlines
2006 65.2 17.8 15.0 2.1
2012 67.2 18.2 13.1 1.4
2016 65.5 20.5 12.2 1.8
2017 64.6 21.2 12.4 1.8

Export Table DataNotes: * 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

Table 6: Top 10 Airlines, November 2017

Ranked by Number of Full-Time Equivalent Employees*

     
RankAirlineTotal FTE EmployeesCarrier Group**Top 10 Airlines November 2016
1 American 100,668  Network American
2 United 82,647  Network United
3 Delta 81,506  Network Delta
4 Southwest 56,067  Low-cost Southwest
5 JetBlue 17,788  Low-cost JetBlue
6 Alaska 13,064  Network Alaska
7 Envoy 12,316  Regional Envoy
8 SkyWest 12,156  Regional SkyWest
9 Spirit 6,505  Low-cost ExpressJet
10 Hawaiian 5,961  Other Hawaiian

Export Table DataNotes: * 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

Table 7: Network Airline Year-to-Year Change in Full-time Equivalent Employees* from the Previous Year, November 2017

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 2.4
March 0.6 1.7 2.9 2.7
April 0.4 2.4 2.4 2.6
May 0.5 2.7 2.3 2.4
June 0.3 3.1 2.3 2.5
July 0.4 3.1 2.4 2.3
August 0.1 3.7 2.5 2.2
September 0.4 3.6 2.6 2.1
October 0.3 3.6 2.7 2.1
November 0.4 3.7 2.3 2.0
December 0.8 3.5 2.4  

Export Table DataNotes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 8: Network Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Month 2013 - 2017, November 2017

        
 20132014201520162017Percent Change 
            2013 - 2017 2016 - 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  273,365  7.2  2.4 
March 254,871  256,342  260,794  268,375  275,503  8.1  2.7 
April 255,674  256,732  262,905  269,169  276,225  8.0  2.6 
May 256,274  257,578  264,438  270,559  277,135  8.1  2.4 
June 256,791  257,491  265,486  271,503  278,390  8.4  2.5 
July 256,474  257,541  265,551  271,963  278,325  8.5  2.3 
August 255,800  256,095  265,567  272,112  278,158  8.7  2.2 
September 255,194  256,133  265,315  272,136  277,804  8.9  2.1 
October 255,741  256,409  265,704  272,787  278,565  8.9  2.1 
November 255,914  256,823  266,251  272,347  277,885  8.6  2.0 
December 255,155  257,251  266,136  272,614       
Jan - Nov Average 255,642  256,529  263,494  270,380  276,706  8.2  2.3 
12-Month Average 255,602  256,589  263,714  270,566       

Export Table DataNotes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 9: Network Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees*, November 2013 - 2017

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

         
RankAirline20132014201520162017Percent Change 
              2013 - 2017 2016 - 2017
1 American (+ US) 90,960  92,314  97,361  99,426  100,668  10.7 1.2
  American 59,462  60,614  97,361  99,426  100,668  N/A  1.2
  US Airways 31,498  31,700  N/A  N/A  N/A  N/A  N/A 
2 United 81,880  78,890  78,838  82,027  82,647  0.9 0.8
3 Delta 73,575  75,487  79,116  79,347  81,506  10.8 2.7
4 Alaska 9,499  10,132  10,936  11,547  13,064  37.5 13.1
  Total 255,914  256,823  266,251  272,347  277,885  8.6 2.0

Export Table DataNotes: * 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

Table 10: Low-Cost Airline Year-to-Year Change in Full-time Equivalent Employees* from the Previous Year, November 2017

Percent change compared to same month of the previous year

     
 2014201520162017
January 0.3 4.6 7.9 9.7
February 0.7 4.6 8.5 9.4
March 0.8 3.9 9.6 9.1
April 1.5 4.2 10.2 8.8
May 1.8 4.3 10.7 8.3
June 2.2 4.9 11.0 8.0
July 2.5 5.2 11.3 7.3
August 3.0 5.8 11.0 7.0
September 2.9 6.6 10.6 6.8
October 3.8 6.9 10.3 6.7
November 5.2 6.5 9.8 6.5
December 4.4 7.8 9.5  

Export Table DataNotes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 11: Low-Cost Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Month 2013 - 2017, November 2017 

        
 20132014201520162017Percent Change 
            2013 - 2017 2016 - 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  87,030  25.0  9.4 
March 69,854  70,384  73,163  80,202  87,532  25.3  9.1 
April 69,677  70,751  73,695  81,180  88,289  26.7  8.8 
May 69,818  71,095  74,167  82,070  88,859  27.3  8.3 
June 69,574  71,074  74,592  82,796  89,392  28.5  8.0 
July 69,510  71,272  74,999  83,481  89,576  28.9  7.3 
August 69,286  71,387  75,549  83,823  89,718  29.5  7.0 
September 69,426  71,428  76,176  84,284  90,038  29.7  6.8 
October 69,496  72,110  77,063  85,033  90,751  30.6  6.7 
November 69,402  73,014  77,783  85,439  91,015  31.1  6.5 
December 69,365  72,399  78,035  85,434       
Jan - Nov Average 69,558  71,122  74,859  82,411  88,953  27.9  8.0 
12-Month Average 69,542  71,229  75,124  82,663       

Export Table DataNotes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 12: Low-Cost Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees*, November 2013 - 2017

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

         
RankAirline20132014201520162017Percent Change 
              2013 - 2017 2016 - 2017
1 Southwest 44,911  46,299  49,578  53,678  56,067  24.8 4.5
2 JetBlue 12,990  13,677  15,214  16,681  17,788  36.9 6.6
3 Spirit 3,521  4,447  4,623  5,484  6,505  84.7 18.6
4 Allegiant 2,048  2,398  2,737  3,223  3,760  83.6 16.7
5 Frontier 3,444  3,672  2,875  3,380  3,670  6.6 8.6
6 Virgin America 2,488  2,521  2,756  2,993  3,225  29.6 7.8
  Total 69,402  73,014  77,783  85,439  91,015  31.1 6.5

Export Table DataNotes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 13: Regional Airline Year-to-Year Change in Full-time Equivalent Employees* from the Previous Year, November 2017 

Percent change compared to same month of the previous year

     
Month2014201520162017
January -0.4 -1.9 2.2 1.8
February 0.5 -0.3 0.2 2.4 
March 0.9 -0.5 0.1 2.0 
April 2.3 -0.4 0.1 2.1 
May 2.4 -0.3 0.2 2.5 
June 1.9 0.1 0.9 2.6 
July 3.5 -3.3 3.3 2.7 
August 2.5 -2.7 3.3 3.3 
September 2.1 -2.7 2.9 4.3 
October -0.2 1.4 0.3 5.2 
November 1.5 -0.2 0.2 5.4 
December -0.2 0.9 0.2  

Export Table DataNotes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 14: Regional Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Month 2013 - 2017, November 2017

        
 20132014201520162017Percent Change 
            2013 - 2017 2016 - 2017
January 50,640  50,425  49,477  50,544  51,430  1.6  1.8 
February 50,191  50,458  50,318  50,416  51,614  2.8  2.4 
March 50,181  50,623  50,361  50,424  51,442  2.5  2.0 
April 49,387  50,526  50,326  50,374  51,438  4.2  2.1 
May 49,424  50,633  50,469  50,554  51,803  4.8  2.5 
June 49,415  50,336  50,373  50,823  52,144  5.5  2.6 
July 49,387  51,107  49,403  51,021  52,408  6.1  2.7 
August 49,434  50,671  49,320  50,957  52,615  6.4  3.3 
September 49,546  50,574  49,231  50,677  52,871  6.7  4.3 
October 49,890  49,789  50,486  50,637  53,255  6.7  5.2 
November 49,851  50,605  50,522  50,625  53,346  7.0  5.4 
December 50,191  50,083  50,521  50,616       
Jan - Nov Average 49,759  50,522  50,026  50,641  52,215  4.9  3.1 
12-Month Average 49,795  50,486  50,067  50,639       

Export Table DataNotes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 15: Regional Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees*, November 2013 - 2017

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

RankAirline20132014201520162017Percent Change 
RankAirline20132014201520162017Percent Change 
    2012 2012 2012 2012 2012 2013 - 2017 2016 - 2017
1 Envoy 11,099  11,661  10,692  10,887  12,316  11.0 13.1
2 SkyWest 9,595  9,774  10,314  10,746  12,156  26.7 13.1
3 YX/S5/RP Combined# 5,757  5,873  5,596  5,008  5,625  -2.3 12.3
  Republic 2,633  3,066  3,097  3,959  5,625  N/A  N/A 
  Shuttle America 1,988  1,991  2,499  1,049  N/A  N/A  N/A 
  Chautauqua 1,136  816  N/A  N/A  N/A  N/A  N/A 
4 ExpressJet 9,085  8,800  7,483  6,399  4,528  -50.2 -29.2
5 Endeavor 3,987  3,550  3,293  3,765  4,155  4.2 10.4
6 Horizon 2,724  2,855  3,231  3,291  3,607  32.4 9.6
7 PSA 1,102  1,719  2,394  2,736  3,314  200.7 21.1
8 Mesa 1,770  2,182  2,769  3,075  3,168  79.0 3.0
9 Compass 1,142  1,199  1,653  1,939  1,756  53.8 -9.4
10 Air Wisconsin 2,468  1,895  1,860  1,479  1,414  -42.7 -4.4
11 GoJet 1,122  1,097  1,237  1,300  1,307  16.5 0.5
  Total 49,851  50,605  50,522  50,625  53,346  7.0 5.4

 

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

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