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September 2005 Passenger Airline Employment Down 5.5 Percent from September 2004

September 2005 Passenger Airline Employment Down 5.5 Percent from September 2004

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BTS 53-05
Dave Smallen
202-366-5568

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 — U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 436,350 workers in September 2005, 5.5 percent fewer than in September 2004, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today (Table 1).

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), reported that the seven network carriers employed 293,767 total full-time and part-time workers - 8.6 percent fewer workers in September 2005 than a year earlier (Table 2). The low-cost carriers reported 74,425 total employees, 0.5 percent fewer than September 2004 (Table 3); and the regional carriers reported 54,608 total employees, 3.3 percent more than the previous year (Table 4).

September was the ninth consecutive month of year-over-year declines in airline employment levels for the scheduled passenger carriers since BTS began tracking the numbers. For the first time in 2005, part-time employee numbers declined with a 0.5 percent decrease in September 2005 from September 2004 (Table 1).

Many regional carriers were not required to report employment numbers before 2003, so year-to-year comparisons involving regional carriers, or the total industry, are not available for the years before 2003. BTS is providing pre-2003 comparisons for network and low-cost carriers, as well as pre-2003 numbers for individual regional carriers that were required to report in earlier years.

Airlines that operate at least one aircraft with the capacity to carry combined passengers, cargo and fuel of 18,000 pounds - the payload factor - must report monthly employment statistics.

Employment data for Independence Air, which changed its business model from a regional to low-cost carrier in mid-2004, have been included with low-cost carriers for 2003, 2004 and 2005. This change reflects that carrier's current business model as a low-cost operator.

Due to its recent purchase by Sky West Airlines, Atlantic Southeast Airlines was granted an extension for the filing of September employment numbers. As a result, its employment numbers are not included in any of the year-to-year totals for regional airlines in Tables 1, 4, 7 and 8.

Using Full-Time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations, employment at network carriers in September dropped 34.4 percent from 2001 to 2005. The biggest declines were at US Airways, down 51.8 percent; and United Airlines, down 43.7 percent (Table 5). In FTE calculations, two part-time employees are counted as one full-time employee.

The seven low-cost carriers, excluding Independence, that were required to report employment data in 2001 and 2005 employed 12.8 percent more FTEs in September 2005 than in September 2001 (Table 6).

The seven regional carriers that were required to report employment data in 2001 and 2005 employed 2.9 percent more FTEs in September 2005 than in September 2001. Of that group, Horizon Air and Air Wisconsin reported fewer FTE employees in September 2005 than September 2001 (Table 7).

In this release, Tables 1, 2, 3 and 4 use totals for full-time and part-time employees, while employee numbers in Tables 5, 6, 7 and 8 show FTEs.

The 5.8 percent drop in FTEs from September 2004 to September 2005 was the ninth consecutive month of year-over-year declines in airline employment levels for the scheduled passenger carriers. It was the largest decrease for that period. It was also the second consecutive month with a decline of more than 5 percent from the same month of the previous year (Table 8).

Network carriers 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. Low-cost carriers are those that the industry generally recognizes as operating under a low-cost business model with fewer infrastructure costs.

Regional carriers provide service from small cities, using primarily regional jets to support the network carriers' hub and spoke systems.

The Other Carrier category generally reflects those airlines that operate within specific niche markets such as Aloha and Hawaiian Airlines in serving the Hawaiian Islands.

Data are compiled from monthly reports filed with BTS by commercial air carriers as of Nov. 8.

Additional airline employment data can be found on the BTS website at http://www.bts.gov/programs/airline_information/number_of_employees/. BTS has scheduled release of October airline employment data for Dec. 20.

Table 1: Passenger Airline Employment, September 2004-2005

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  Sep-04 Sep-05 Pct. Change 2004-2005
Total (39)      
Total 461,628 436,350 −5.50%
Full-time 406,304 381,306 −6.20%
Part-time 55,324 55,044 −0.50%
Network Carriers (7)      
Total 321,449 293,767 −8.60%
Full-time 283,301 257,009 −9.30%
Part-time 38,148 36,758 −3.60%
Low Cost Carriers (8)*      
Total 74,778 74,425 −0.50%
Full-time 67,737 66,722 −1.50%
Part-time 7,041 7,703 9.40%
Regional Carriers (13)**      
Total 52,848 54,608 3.30%
Full-time 46,084 47,639 3.40%
Part-time 6,764 6,969 3.00%
Other Carriers (11)***      
Total 12,553 13,550 7.90%
Full-time 9,182 9,936 8.20%
Part-time 3,371 3,614 7.20%

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Independence Air (formerly known as Atlantic Coast Airlines) data have been included in 2004 and 2005 totals for low-cost carriers, reflecting the current change in its business model from its prior designation of regional carrier.

** Atlantic Southeast Airlines was granted an extension for the filing of September 2005 employment numbers. For year-to-year comparison purposes, its employment data were not included in this table.

*** Other Carriers generally operate within specific niche markets. They are: Allegiant Air, Aloha Airlines, Casino Express Airlines, Continental Micronesia, Hawaiian Airlines, Midwest Airlines, Shuttle America, Sun Country Airlines, TransMeridian Airlines, USA3000 Airlines.

Table 2: Total Number of Employees: Network Carriers, September 2001-2005

(Number of current carriers in parentheses)

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  Total Pct. Chge from previous year Full-time Pct. Chge from previous year Part-time Pct. Chge from previous year
2001 (8) 446,950 N/A 392,836 N/A 54,114 N/A
2002 (7) 392,147 −12.3 346,047 −11.9 46,100 −14.8
2003 (7) 327,209 −16.6 288,174 −16.7 39,035 −15.3
2004 (7) 321,449 −1.8 283,301 −1.7 38,148 −2.3
2005 (7) 293,767 −8.6 257,009 −9.3 36,758 −3.6

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 3: Total Number of Employees: Low-cost Carriers, September 2001-2005

(Number of current carriers in parentheses)

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  Total Pct. Chge from previous year Full-time Pct. Chge from previous year Part-time Pct. Chge from previous year
2001 (11) 65,725 N/A 59,397 N/A 6,328 N/A
2002 (11) 69,530 5.8 63,152 6.3 6,378 0.8
2003 (8) 74,100 6.6 67,379 6.7 6,721 5.4
2004 (8) 74,778 0.9 67,737 0.5 7,041 4.8
2005 (8) 74,425 −0.5 66,722 −1.5 7,703 9.4

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 4: Total Number of Employees: Regional Carriers, September 2003-2005*

(Number of current carriers in parentheses)

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  Total Pct. Chge from previous year Full-time Pct. Chge from previous year Part-time Pct. Chge from previous year
2003 (11) 38,778 N/A 33,962 N/A 4,816 N/A
2004 (13) 52,848 36.3 46,084 35.7 6,764 40.4
2005 (13) 54,608 3.3 47,639 3.4 6,969 3.0

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Atlantic Southeast Airlines was granted an extension for the filing of September 2005 employment numbers. For year-to-year comparison purposes, its employment numbers were not included in this table.

NOTE: Regional group numbers for years before 2003 are not included because of the limited number of regional carriers that met the requirement for filing reports.

Table 5: Network Carrier FTE Employees, September 2001-2005*

(Ranked by September 2005 FTE Employees)

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Rank   2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Percentage Full-time Employees
2001 2005
1 American** 91,300 99,422 80,665 79,166 75,460 86.4 86.2
2 United 95,836 79,121 59,609 58,447 53,916 90.4 88.8
3 Delta 75,229 65,611 58,466 57,243 50,745 83.0 88.9
4 Northwest 47,132 44,542 38,075 37,528 32,999 96.3 94.1
5 Continental 39,662 36,818 34,580 34,512 32,587 80.0 80.4
6 US Airways 42,909 33,302 26,270 25,672 20,663 90.4 86.0
7 Alaska 10,157 10,283 10,028 9,809 9,018 87.6 89.4
8 TWA 17,670 N/A N/A N/A N/A 94.3 N/A
  Total 419,895 369,099 307,693 302,377 275,388 87.9 87.5

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Note: Detail may not add to total due to rounding

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

**American Airline's statistics beginning in June 2001 reflect that carrier's absorption of former TWA employees that were retained by AA after its April 2001 acquisition of TWA's assets.

Table 6: Low-Cost Carrier FTE Employees, September 2001-2005*

(Ranked by September 2005 FTE Employees)

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Rank   2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Percentage Full-time Employees
2001 2005
1 Southwest 30,947 33,609 32,563 30,657 31,382 97.7 98.4
2 America West 12,263 11,691 10,907 11,456 11,769 79.9 76.8
3 JetBlue 1,787 3,249 4,800 6,256 7,885 73.1 82.1
4 AirTran 3,797 4,501 5,231 5,637 6,302 90.7 92.4
5 ATA 6,893 6,443 7,580 6,545 4,097 88.3 91.1
6 Frontier 2,282 2,637 3,173 4,068 4,097 81.9 79.3
7 Independence** N/A N/A 4,187 4,310 3,020 N/A 84.7
8 Spirit 1,944 2,300 2,299 2,330 2,023 86.6 89.0
  Total*** 59,913 64,430 70,740 71,258 70,574 90.5 89.6

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Note: Detail may not add to total due to rounding

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

**Employment numbers in 2003, 2004 and 2005 for Independence Air, which changed its business model from a regional to low-cost carrier in mid-2004, are included with low-cost carriers. The carrier did not meet the standard for filing in previous years.

*** Total numbers for carriers operating in 2005.

Table 7: Regional Carrier FTE Employees, September 2000-2004*

(Ranked by September 2005 FTE Employees)

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Rank   2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Percentage Full-time Employees
2001 2005
1 American Eagle 9,222 8,616 7,478 8,942 9,448 87.2 88.5
2 Sky West N/A N/A 5,343 6,716 8,132 N/A 86.5
3 Comair N/A N/A 5,648 5,907 6,589 N/A 91.9
4 Express Jet N/A 4,694 5,653 6,223 6,492 N/A 91.7
5 Horizon 3,636 3,436 3,329 3,318 3,450 83.9 87.2
6 Mesaba 3,107 3,150 3,001 3,130 3,371 76.4 74.5
7 Mesa N/A N/A N/A 3,866 3,343 N/A 98.8
8 Pinnacle N/A N/A N/A 2,418 3,080 N/A 70.9
9 Air Wisconsin 2,964 2,769 2,634 3,766 2,388 89.7 92.1
10 Executive 1,202 1,141 1,808 1,864 1,746 78.7 78.1
11 PSA N/A N/A N/A 1,797 1,660 N/A 84.9
12 Trans States 1,093 1,050 1,176 1,436 1,428 91.3 95.1
13 Atlantic Southeast** 4,130 4,901 5,365 5,857 * 92.6 *
  Total*** 21,224 24,856 36,070 49,383 51,127 85 87.2

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Note: Many regional carriers were not required to report employment numbers before 2003 so year-to-year comparisons involving regional carriers as a group, or the full industry, are not appropriate for earlier years.

Note: Detail may not add to total due to rounding

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

** Atlantic Southeast Airlines was granted an extension for the filing of September 2005 employment numbers.

*** Totals exclude Atlantic Southeast Airlines and include only carriers operating and reporting in 2005.

N/A: Not applicable because carriers did not meet the standard for filing.

Table 8: Change in FTE Employees from the Previous Year*

Percentage change compared to same month the previous year

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Month Network Carriers (Pct. Change) Low-Cost Carriers** (Pct. Change) Regional Carriers (Pct. Change) All Passenger Airlines*** (Pct. Change)
Dec. 2003-Dec. 2004 −3.5 0.5 29.4 0.7
Jan. 2004-Jan. 2005 −4.3 0.4 15.8 −1.0
Feb. 2004-Feb. 2005 −4.6 0.6 13.8 −1.4
Mar. 2004-Mar. 2005 −5.0 0.0 13.3 −1.9
Apr. 2004-Apr. 2005 −6.5 −0.7 12.2 −3.1
May 2004-May 2005 −6.7 −1.0 10.9 −3.4
June 2004-June 2005 −7.0 −1.1 10.0 −3.7
July 2004-July 2005 −5.6 −1.5 4.9 −3.3
Aug. 2004-Aug. 2005 −9.0 −0.7 3.9 −5.7
Sept. 2004-Sept. 2005**** −8.9 −1.0 3.5 −5.8

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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

**Employment numbers in 2003, 2004 and 2005 for Independence Air, which changed its business model from a regional to low-cost carrier in mid-2004, are included with low-cost carriers.

*** Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers.

**** Atlantic Southeast Airlines was granted an extension for the filing of September 2005 employment numbers. For year-to-year comparison purposes, its numbers are not included in September 2004.