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June 2006 Passenger Airline Employment Down 5 Percent from June 2005

June 2006 Passenger Airline Employment Down 5 Percent from June 2005

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BTS 39-06
Roger Lotz
202-366-2246

Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2006 - U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 5 percent fewer workers in June 2006 than in June 2005, the 18th consecutive month that full-time equivalent employee (FTE) levels for the scheduled passenger carriers declined compared to the same month of the previous year, 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 June 2005 to June 2006 decline in FTEs was the 10th month in the last 11 in which FTEs declined by at least 5 percent from the same month of the previous year. FTE calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

December 2004 was the last month in which scheduled passenger airlines employed more FTEs than in the same month the previous year. December 2004 was the last of seven consecutive months of increases from the previous year (Table 2). Scheduled passenger airlines include network, low-cost, regional and other airlines.

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. Using the available numbers from network, low-cost, regional and other airlines, the 403,000 FTEs employed in June 2006 were the lowest total since at least the beginning of 2003 (Table 3).

The seven network carriers employed 265,000 FTEs in June, 65.8 percent of the passenger airline total, while low-cost carriers employed 17.2 percent and regional carriers employed 13.7 percent (Table 4). The network carriers have employed fewer FTEs each June compared to the previous year since 2002, the only carrier group to do so (Table 5).

American Airlines employs the most FTEs among the network carriers, Southwest Airlines employs the most among low-cost carriers and American Eagle Airlines employs the most among regional carriers. Seven of the top 10 employers in the industry are network carriers (Table 6).

Network Airlines

Network carrier FTEs have declined every month since 2003 from the same month the previous year. They declined 6.9 percent in June 2006 compared to June 2005, the 16th consecutive month with a decline of at least 5 percent from the previous year (Table 7). Numbers from previous years were reported in BTS' Feb. 21 press releasehttp://www.bts.gov/press_releases/2006/bts009_06/html/bts009_06.html.

Network carrier FTEs dropped from 371,000 in June 2002 to 265,000 in June 2006, a decline of 28.6 percent (Table 8).

FTEs at all seven network carriers declined in June 2006 from June 2002. The biggest percentage declines were at US Airways, down 43.6 percent, a reduction of 15,000 FTEs, and United Airlines, down 33.2 percent, a reduction of 27,000 FTEs. Collectively, the seven network carriers reduced June FTE headcount in 2006 by 106,000 since 2002 (Table 9).

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.

Data for US Airways and America West Airlines, now in the process of merging operations, are separately reported - US Airways' data are included in the network carriers' category and America West's in the low-cost carriers' category.

Low-Cost Airlines

Low-cost carrier FTEs declined 2 percent in June 2006 compared to June 2005, the 15th consecutive month of decreases from the previous year (Table 10). The 69,000 FTEs employed by the seven low-cost carriers in June account for 17.2 percent of the passenger airline total (Table 11 and Table 4).

Low-cost carrier FTEs were 64,000 in June 2002, 71,000 in June 2005 and 69,000 in June 2006. The increase from 2002 to 2006 was 8.1 percent. Of the airlines operating and reporting in both June 2006 and June 2002, all reported more FTEs in 2006 except Southwest Airlines, down 4.3 percent; ATA Airlines, down 62.9 percent; and Spirit Airlines, down 10.3 percent (Table 12).

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

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 for consistency. The airline discontinued all flights on Jan. 5.

Regional Airlines

Regional carrier FTEs were down 3.6 percent in June compared to June 2005 (Table 13).

Regional carrier FTEs rose from 41,000 in June 2003 to 55,000 in June 2006, an increase of 33.6 percent (Table 14).

The seven regional carriers reporting employment data in both 2002 and 2006 employed 12.7 percent more FTEs in June 2006 than in June 2002. Of that group, Air Wisconsin and Mesaba Airlines were the only carriers to report fewer FTE's in June 2006 than June 2002 (Table 15).

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

Reporting Notes

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.

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 Aug. 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 July airline employment data for Sept. 19.

Table 1: Passenger Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees*

Change from the Previous Year
Percent change compared to same month the previous year for the most recent 13 months

Excel | CSV

Month Network Carriers (Pct. Change) Low-Cost Carriers** (Pct. Change) Regional Carriers (Pct. Change) All Passenger Airlines*** (Pct. Change)
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 3.4 -5.8
Oct. 2004-Oct. 2005 -8.9 -1.0 2.4 -5.8
Nov. 2004-Nov. 2005 -9.3 -2.3 0.1 -6.5
Dec. 2004-Dec. 2005 -8.5 -1.4 0.0 -5.9
Jan. 2005-Jan. 2006 -7.8 -5.3 -1.8 -6.1
Feb. 2005-Feb. 2006 -7.8 -4.1 -1.2 -5.8
Mar. 2005-Mar. 2006 -7.4 -3.0 -1.9 -5.3
Apr. 2005-Apr. 2006 -6.7 -2.2 -1.6 -4.8
May 2005-May 2006 -7.0 -2.1 -3.5 -5.0
June 2005-June 2006 -6.9 -2.0 -3.6 -5.0

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. The airline discontinued flights on Jan. 5, 2006.

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

**** 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.

Note: Percentage changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 2: Total Passenger Airline* Full-time Equivalent Employees**

Change from the Previous Year
Percent change compared to same month the previous year

Excel | CSV

Month 2003 2004 2005 2006
January -1.0 -6.0 -1.2 -6.1
February -1.7 -5.3 -1.4 -5.8
March -2.8 -4.1 -1.9 -5.4
April -4.4 -2.3 -3.1 -4.8
May -6.7 -0.8 -3.5 -5.0
June -8.3 0.5 -3.8 -5.0
July -9.6 2.5 -3.5  
August -9.5 2.2 -5.8  
September*** -9.3 2.4 -5.8  
October -10.4 2.5 -6.1  
November -9.2 2.2 -6.5  
December -8.3 0.9 -5.9  

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.

*** 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.

Note: Percentage changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 3: Total Passenger Airline* Full-time Equivalent Employees** by Month

Numbers in thousands (000's)

Excel | CSV

Month 2003 2004 2005 2006 Percentage Change 2003-2006
January 465 437 432 405 -12.9%
February 459 435 429 404 -12.0%
March 454 436 428 405 -10.9%
April 445 435 421 404 -9.9%
May 443 440 424 403 -9.1%
June 439 441 424 403 -8.2%
July 433 444 428    
August 433 443 418    
September 430 440 414    
October 428 439 413    
November 430 439 411    
December 430 434 409    
Monthly Average 441 439 421    
Jan.-June Average 452 438 427 404 -10.5%

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 and averages based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 4: Total Number of Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Carrier Group, June 2002-2006

FTE Numbers in thousands (000's)

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  Network Low-Cost Regional All Passenger Airlines**
2002 371 64 29 479
2003 318 71 41 439
2004 306 72 52 441
2005 285 71 57 424
2006 265 69 55 403
Pct. Change 2002-2006*** -28.6% 8.1% 33.7% -8.2%
Percent of Total Passenger Airline Employees in 2006 65.8% 17.2% 13.7%  

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.

*** Percent change comparison for regional airlines and for all passenger airlines is for 2003 to 2006 because of the number of airlines in these categories that did not meet the standard for reporting monthly employment numbers.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 5: Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Carrier Group,

Year-to-Year Change, June 2002-2006
Percent Change from the previous year

Excel | CSV

  Network Low-Cost Regional All Passenger Airlines**
2002 -14.8 5.7 -3.7 -12.8
2003 -14.4 10 40.6 -8.3
2004 -3.6 1.5 25.8 0.5
2005 -7.0 -1.1 10.2 -3.8
2006 -6.9 -2.0 -3.6 -5.0

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.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 6: Top 10 Airlines, June 2006

Ranked by Number of Full-Time Equivalent Employees*

Excel | CSV

Rank Airline Total FTE Employees (000) Carrier Group June  2005 Rank June   2004 Rank
1 American 73 Network 1 1
2 United 53 Network 2 2
3 Delta 45 Network 3 3
4 Continental 34 Network 5 5
5 Southwest 32 Low-Cost 6 6
6 Northwest 30 Network 4 4
7 US Airways 19 Network 7 7
8 America West 12 Low-Cost 8 8
9 JetBlue 10 Low-Cost 12 15
10 Alaska 9 Network 10 10

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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

Table 7: Network Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees*

Change from the Previous Year
Percent change compared to same month the previous year

Excel | CSV

Month 2003 2004 2005 2006
January -5.3 -12.5 -4.3 -7.8
February -10.7 -11.0 -4.7 -7.8
March -8.2 -8.7 -5.0 -7.4
April -10.0 -6.6 -6.5 -6.7
May -12.7 -4.9 -6.6 -7.0
June -14.4 -3.6 -7.0 -6.9
July -15.8 -2.0 -5.6  
August -16.4 -1.7 -9.0  
September -16.6 -1.7 -8.9  
October -16.6 -1.7 -8.9  
November -15.4 -1.7 -9.3  
December -14.1 -3.4 -8.5  

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 8: Network Carrier Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Month

Numbers in thousands (000's)

Excel | CSV

  2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 Percent Change 2002-2006
January 368 349 305 293 270 -26.8
February 364 342 305 290 268 -26.4
March 364 334 305 289 268 -26.3
April 363 327 306 286 267 -26.7
May 369 322 306 286 266 -27.9
June 371 318 306 285 265 -28.6
July 371 313 306 289    
August 372 311 305 278    
September 369 308 302 275    
October 369 308 302 275    
November 361 305 300 272    
December 356 306 296 271    
Monthly Average 366 320 304 282    
Jan.-June Average 367 332 305 288 267 -27.1

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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

Note: Percent changes and averages based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 9: Network Carrier Full-time Equivalent Employees*, June 2002-2006

(Ranked by June 2006 FTE Employees)
Numbers in thousands (000's)

Excel | CSV

Rank   2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 Percent Change      2002-2006
1 American 99 86 79 76 73 -25.8
2 United 80 64 59 55 53 -33.2
3 Delta 66 58 58 53 45 -31.4
4 Continental 37 35 35 33 34 -7.1
5 Northwest 45 39 39 38 30 -32.7
6 US Airways 34 26 26 22 19 -43.6
7 Alaska 10 10 10 9 9 -10.4
  Total 371 242 231 216 265 -28.6

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.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

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

Percent change compared to same month the previous year

Excel | CSV

Month 2003 2004 2005 2006
January 9.2 8.5 0.4 -5.3
February 8.5 6.9 0.6 -4.1
March 14.1 0.5 0.0 -3.0
April 12.4 0.6 -0.7 -2.2
May 11.7 0.8 -1.0 -2.1
June 10.0 1.5 -1.1 -2.0
July 9.2 2.3 -1.5  
August 9.6 1.1 -0.7  
September 9.8 0.7 -1.0  
October 9.8 0.7 -1.0  
November 9.0 0.6 -2.5  
December 1.7 0.5 -1.4  

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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

Note: 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 airline discontinued flights on Jan. 5, 2006.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 11: Low-Cost Carrier Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Month

Numbers in thousands (000's)

Excel | CSV

  2002 2003** 2004** 2005** 2006 Percent Change 2002-2006
January 60 66 71 72 68 12.8
February 61 66 70 71 68 11.9
March 62 70 71 71 69 11.2
April 63 70 71 70 69 9.8
May 63 71 71 71 69 9.2
June 64 71 72 71 69 8.1
July 65 71 72 71    
August 65 71 72 71    
September 64 71 71 71    
October 64 71 71 70    
November 66 72 72 70    
December 66 67 72 71    
Monthly Average 64 70 71 71    
Jan.-June Average 62 69 71 71 69 10.5

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Note: Percent changes and averages based on numbers prior to rounding.

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 airline discontinued flights on Jan. 5, 2006.

Table 12: Low-Cost Carrier Full-time Equivalent Employees* June 2002-2006

(Ranked by June 2006 FTE Employees)
Numbers in thousands (000's)

Excel | CSV

Rank   2002 2003** 2004** 2005** 2006 Percent Change 2002-2006
1 Southwest 33 33 31 31 32 -4.3
2 America West 12 11 12 12 12 0.4
3 JetBlue 3 4 6 8 10 248.8
4 AirTran 5 5 6 6 7 56.5
5 Frontier 3 3 4 4 4 68.4
6 ATA 7 7 7 4 3 -62.9
7 Spirit 3 2 2 2 2 -10.3
8 Independence N/A 4 4 3 N/A N/A
  Total**** 64 71 72 71 69 8.1

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

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. The airline discontinued flights on Jan. 5, 2006.

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

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

Percent change compared to same month the previous year

Excel | CSV

  2004** 2005 2006
January 16.9 15.8 -1.8
February 18.0 13.8 -1.2
March 20.0 13.3 -1.9
April 22.1 12.2 -1.6
May 23.5 10.9 -3.5
June 25.8 10.0 -3.6
July 31.4 4.9  
August 31.8 3.9  
September 36.9 3.4  
October 32.6 2.4  
November 32.3 0.1  
December 18.7 0.0  

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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

** Three regional airlines, Mesa, Pinnacle and PSA, did not meet the reporting standard in 2003. Mesa and Pinnacle began reporting employment numbers in 2004 while Pinnacle began reporting in 2005.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 14: Regional Carrier Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Month

Numbers in thousands (000's)

Excel | CSV

  2003** 2004 2005 2006 Percent Change 2003-2006
January 41 48 58 55 33.7
February 41 49 56 55 33.3
March 41 50 56 55 33.3
April 41 50 57 55 36.8
May 42 51 57 55 32.1
June 41 52 57 55 33.6
July 41 54 57    
August 42 55 57    
September 36 49 51    
October 42 55 57    
November 42 56 56    
December 43 55 55    
Monthly Average 41 52 56    
Jan.-June Average 41 50 57 55 33.3

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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

** Three regional airlines, Mesa, Pinnacle and PSA, did not meet the reporting standard in 2003. Mesa and Pinnacle began reporting employment numbers in 2004 while Pinnacle began reporting in 2005.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 15: Regional Carrier Full-time Equivalent Employees*, June 2002-2006

(Ranked by June 2006 FTE Employees)

Excel | CSV

Rank   2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 Percent Change 2002-2006
1 American Eagle 8,509 7,567 8,500 9,443 9,184 7.9
2 Sky West N/A 5,084 6,353 7,765 8,043 N/A
3 Express Jet 4,694 5,719 6,195 6,507 6,665 42.0
4 Comair N/A 5,549 5,848 6,577 6,210 N/A
5 Atlantic Southeast 4,594 5,327 5,717 5,523 5,475 19.2
6 Horizon 3,496 3,357 3,377 3,395 3,554 1.7
7 Mesa N/A N/A 3,682 3,294 3,273 N/A
8 Pinnacle N/A N/A 2,222 3,052 3,049 N/A
9 Mesaba 3,297 3,046 3,033 3,359 2,850 -13.6
10 Air Wisconsin 2,701 2,621 3,595 3,322 2,225 -17.6
11 Executive 1,089 1,863 1,998 1,770 1,757 61.3
12 PSA N/A N/A N/A 1,742 1,471 N/A
13 Trans States 980 1,152 1,411 1,476 1,386 41.4
  Total** 29,360 41,285 51,931 57,225 55,142 12.7

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.

** 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 appropriate for the years before 2003. The Percentage Change 2002-2006 is based on the seven carriers reporting in both years.

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