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December 2006 Passenger Airline Employment Down 1.1 Percent from December 2005

December 2006 Passenger Airline Employment Down 1.1 Percent from December 2005

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BTS 08-07
Dave Smallen
202-366-5568

Thursday, February 22, 2007 - U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 1.1 percent fewer workers in December 2006 than in December 2005, the smallest decrease in full-time equivalent employee (FTE) levels for the scheduled passenger carriers from the same month of the previous year since January 2005, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today (Table 2). FTE calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

Only the network carrier group reported fewer FTE employees in December than in the prior year with a 2.9 percent decrease while all other carriers combined employed 2.3 percent more FTEs than a year earlier (Table 1).

Adding FTEs from December 2005 to December 2006 were network carriers Continental Airlines and Alaska Airlines (Table 9), all of the low-cost carriers except for ATA Airlines and Spirit Airlines (Table 12), and regional carriers SkyWest Airlines, Express Jet Airlines, Horizon Airlines, Mesa Airlines, Pinnacle Airlines, Atlantic Southeast Airlines, Air Wisconsin Airlines, Shuttle America Airlines, GoJet Airlines and Republic Airlines (Table 15).

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.

The seven network carriers employed 263,000 FTEs in December, 65.1 percent of the passenger airline total, while low-cost carriers employed 17.7 percent and regional carriers employed 14.4 percent (Table 4). The network carriers have employed fewer FTEs each December compared to the previous year since 2002, the only carrier group to do so (Table 5).

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

Network Airlines

Network carrier FTEs declined 2.9 percent in December 2006 compared to December 2005, the smallest drop from the same month of the previous year since November 2004 (Table 7).

Two network carriers increased FTEs from December 2005 to December 2006. Continental's workforce grew 5.4 percent while Alaska's rose 5.2 percent. The largest FTE decreases were reported by Delta, 8.1 percent, and Northwest, 7.0 percent (Table 9).

Collectively, the seven network carriers reduced their FTE headcount by 26.2 percent, or 94,000 FTEs, from December 2002 to December 2006. Network carrier FTEs dropped from 356,000 during the four-year period (Table 8).

FTEs at all seven network carriers declined in December 2006 from December 2002. The biggest percentage decline was at US Airways, down 35.6 percent, a reduction of 11,000 FTEs. United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Northwest Airlines all reported cuts of more than 25 percent in the four years. Continental's FTEs were down 4.7 percent and Alaska's were down 7.4 percent during that time (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 rose 1.4 percent in December 2006 compared to December 2005, the third consecutive increase after 18 consecutive decreases from the previous year. It was the largest increase from the same month of the previous year since July 2004 (Table 10). The 72,000 FTEs employed by the seven low-cost carriers in December was the highest number of low-cost carrier FTEs since 2004 (Tables 11 and 4).

All the low-cost carriers had FTE increases from December 2005 to December 2006 except ATA which reported a 32.9 percent decline and Spirit with a 0.9 percent decrease. America West Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways and AirTran Airways all reported a rise of more than 10 percent (Table 12).

Low-cost carrier FTEs were 66,000 in December 2002, 71,000 in December 2005 and 72,000 in December 2006. The rise from 2002 to 2006 was 8.5 percent (Table 12).

Low-cost carriers are those that the industry recognizes as operating under a low-cost business model with fewer infrastructure costs and greater expectations of productivity.

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, 2006.

Regional Airlines

Regional carrier FTEs were up 3.4 percent in December compared to December 2005, the largest increase in FTEs from the previous year since September 2005 (Table 13).

Shuttle America and Republic reported the largest increases in the group. Shuttle America employed 54.0 percent more FTEs in December 2006 than December 2005 while Republic employed 172.4 percent more (Table 15).

Regional carrier FTEs rose from 42,000 in December 2003 to 58,000 in December 2006, an increase of 36.9 percent (Table 14).

The eight regional carriers reporting employment data in both 2002 and 2006 employed 6.1 percent more FTEs in December 2006 than in December 2002. Of that group, Air Wisconsin, Mesaba Airlines and Executive were the only carriers to report fewer FTEs in December 2006 than December 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 Feb. 19.

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 January airline employment data for March 20.

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) From Table 7 Low-Cost Carriers** (Pct. Change) From Table 10 Regional Carriers (Pct. Change) From Table13 All Passenger Airlines*** (Pct. Change) From Table 2
Dec. 2004-Dec. 2005 -8.8 -1.4 1.3 -6.1
Jan. 2005-Jan. 2006 -8.1 -5.3 1.5 -6.0
Feb. 2005-Feb. 2006 -7.5 -4.1 0.2 -5.6
Mar. 2005-Mar. 2006 -7.5 -3.0 -0.4 -5.4
Apr. 2005-Apr. 2006 -6.7 -2.2 -0.4 -4.8
May 2005-May 2006 -7.0 -2.1 -1.0 -5.0
June 2005-June 2006 -6.8 -2.1 -0.4 -4.8
July 2005-July 2006 -8.1 -2.6 -1.9 -6.1
Aug. 2005-Aug. 2006 -4.7 -0.8 -1.0 -3.3
Sept. 2005-Sept. 2006 -4.1 -0.4 -0.3 -2.7
Oct. 2005-Oct. 2006 -4.0 0.8 0.5 -2.4
Nov. 2005-Nov. 2006 -3.4 0.9 2.4 -1.7
Dec. 2005-Dec. 2006 -2.9 1.4 3.4 -1.1

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, Boston-Maine Airways, Casino Express Airlines, Continental Micronesia, Eos Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Midwest Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, USA3000 Airlines. USA3000 is included in previous months but did not report in December 2006.

Note: Percent 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 0.9 -6.7 -0.7 -6.0
February 0.3 -4.8 -2.1 -5.6
March -0.8 -3.7 -2.4 -5.4
April -2.6 -2.4 -2.9 -4.8
May -4.8 -1.2 -3.0 -5.0
June -6.5 0.3 -3.7 -4.8
July -7.9 2.3 -3.2 -6.1
August -8.1 3.2 -6.4 -3.3
September -8.1 2.3 -5.6 -2.7
October -9.3 2.5 -5.8 -2.4
November -8.1 2.2 -6.3 -1.7
December -7.2 0.9 -5.9 -1.1

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

Numbers in thousands (000's)

Excel | CSV

Month 2003 2004 2005 2006 Percent Change 2003-2006
January 465 437 432 405 -12.9%
February 459 435 429 404 -12.0%
March 454 436 428 405 -11.0%
April 445 435 421 404 -9.8%
May 443 440 424 403 -9.0%
June 439 441 424 403 -8.1%
July 433 444 428 403 -7.0%
August 433 443 418 404 -6.6%
September 430 440 414 403 -6.0%
October 428 439 413 403 -5.7%
November 430 439 411 404 -5.8%
December 430 434 409 404 -6.1%
Monthly Average 441 439 421 404 -8.4%

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 and averages based on numbers prior to rounding.

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

FTE Numbers in thousands (000's)

Excel | CSV

  Network Low-Cost Regional All Passenger Airlines**
2002 356 66 31 464
2003 306 71 43 430
2004 296 72 55 434
2005 271 71 56 409
2006 263 72 58 404
Pct. Change 2002-2006*** -26.2% 8.0% 5.2% -6.9%
Percent of Total Passenger Airline Employees in 2006 65.1% 17.7% 14.4% 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.

*** 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, December 2002-2006
Percent Change from the previous year

Excel | CSV

  Network Low-Cost Regional** All Passenger Airlines***
2002 -4.2 6.0 N/A N/A
2003 -14.1 7.5 N/A N/A
2004 -3.5 0.5 29.3 0.9
2005 -8.5 -1.4 1.8 -5.9
2006 -2.9 1.4 3.4 -1.1

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* 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.

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

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 6: Top 10 Airlines, December 2006

Ranked by Number of Full-Time Equivalent Employees*

Excel | CSV

Rank Airline Total FTE Employees (000) Carrier Group Dec 2005 Rank Dec   2004 Rank
1 American 73 Network 1 1
2 United 52 Network 2 2
3 Delta 45 Network 3 3
4 Continental 34 Network 4 5
5 Southwest 33 Low-Cost 6 6
6 Northwest 30 Network 5 4
7 US Airways 19 Network 7 7
8 America West 13 Low-Cost 8 8
9 JetBlue 10 Low-Cost 11 11
10 Alaska 9 Network 10 9

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 -4.1 -8.1
February -6.0 -11.0 -4.9 -7.5
March -8.2 -8.7 -5.0 -7.5
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 -6.8
July -15.8 -2.0 -5.9 -8.1
August -16.4 -1.6 -9.1 -4.7
September -16.5 -1.7 -8.9 -4.1
October -16.8 -1.4 -8.9 -4.0
November -15.4 -1.7 -9.3 -3.4
December -14.1 -3.5 -8.5 -2.9

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 -27.0
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 -28.5
July 371 313 306 289 265 -28.7
August 372 311 305 278 265 -28.8
September 369 308 302 275 264 -28.3
October 367 305 301 274 263 -28.3
November 361 306 300 272 263 -27.1
December 356 306 296 271 263 -26.2
Monthly Average 366 320 304 282 265 -27.5

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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

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

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

(Ranked by December 2006 FTE Employees)

Numbers in thousands (000's)

Excel | CSV

Rank   2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 Percent Change     
2002-2006 2005-2006
1 American 95 80 77 75 73 -23.3 -2.5
2 United 77 59 58 54 52 -32.0 -2.3
3 Delta 64 59 57 49 45 -30.6 -8.1
4 Continental 36 34 32 33 34 -4.7 5.4
5 Northwest 43 38 39 32 30 -31.7 -7.0
6 US Airways 30 27 25 20 19 -35.6 -3.4
7 Alaska 10 10 9 9 9 -7.4 5.2
  Total 356 306 297 271 263 -26.2 -2.5

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.

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 9.4 8.4 0.5 -5.3
February 8.5 6.2 1.2 -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 1.9 -1.5 -2.1
July 9.2 2.3 -1.5 -2.6
August 9.6 1.1 -0.7 -0.8
September 9.8 0.7 -1.0 -0.4
October 9.3 -0.2 -1.2 0.8
November 9.0 0.6 -2.5 0.9
December 7.5 0.5 -1.4 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 68 71 72 71 69 2.3
August 65 71 72 71 71 6.0
September 64 71 71 71 70 8.2
October 66 71 71 70 71 7.9
November 66 72 72 70 71 7.2
December 66 67 72 71 72 8.0
Monthly Average 64 70 71 71 70 9.4

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*, December 2002-2006

(Ranked by December 2006 FTE Employees)

Numbers in thousands (000's)

Excel | CSV

Rank   2002 2003** 2004** 2005** 2006 Percent Change 2002-2006 Percent Change 2005-2006
1 Southwest 34 33 31 32 33 -3.1 2.9
2 America West 12 11 11 12 13 12.6 12.6
3 JetBlue 4 5 7 8 10 158.0 12.6
4 AirTran 5 5 6 7 7 57.4 10.6
5 Frontier 3 3 4 4 5 36.2 10.5
6 ATA 7 7 6 4 2 -63.1 -32.9
7 Spirit 2 3 2 2 2 -14.6 -0.9
8 Independence N/A 4 4 2 N/A N/A N/A
  Total 66 71 72 71 72 8.5 1.4

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 16.8 16.7 1.5
February 26.5 7.7 0.2
March 28.1 7.9 -0.4
April 22.5 13.7 -0.4
May 21.7 14.9 -1.0
June 25.8 10.2 -0.4
July 33.5 7.6 -1.9
August 42.0 -1.8 -1.0
September 33.3 4.3 -0.3
October 33.9 2.8 0.5
November 31.9 2.1 2.4
December 29.3 1.8 3.4

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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

** Six regional airlines, Republic, Shuttle America, Mesa, Pinnacle, GoJet and PSA, did not meet the reporting standard in 2003. Mesa and Pinnacle began reporting employment numbers in 2004, Pinnacle, Republic, Shuttle America and GoJet 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 Percent Change 2005-2006
January 41 48 56 57 38.3 1.5
February 41 52 56 57 36.4 0.2
March 41 53 57 57 37.6 -0.4
April 41 50 57 57 38.8 -0.4
May 41 50 58 57 38.5 -1.0
June 41 52 57 57 38.0 -0.4
July 41 54 58 57 40.9 -1.9
August 41 59 58 57 38.0 -1.0
September 41 55 58 57 38.6 -0.3
October 42 56 57 58 38.3 0.5
November 42 56 57 58 37.9 2.4
December 43 55 56 58 36.1 3.4
Monthly Average 41 54 57 57 38.1 0.2

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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

** Six regional airlines, Republic, Shuttle America, Mesa, Pinnacle, GoJet and PSA, did not meet the reporting standard in 2003. Mesa and Pinnacle began reporting employment numbers in 2004, Pinnacle, Republic, Shuttle America and GoJet began reporting in 2005.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

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

(Ranked by December 2006 FTE Employees)

Excel | CSV

Rank   2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 Percent Change 2002-2006** Percent Change 2005-2006
1 American Eagle 7,857 7,720 9,130 9,419 9,269 18.0 -1.6
2 SkyWest N/A 5,622 6,998 8,101 8,791 N/A 8.5
3 Express Jet N/A 5,683 6,344 6,375 6,828 N/A 7.1
4 Comair 5,072 5,745 6,098 6,329 6,126 20.8 -3.2
5 Atlantic Southeast 5,082 5,469 5,718 5,552 5,657 11.3 1.9
6 Horizon 3,409 3,311 3,322 3,504 3,656 7.2 4.3
7 Pinnacle N/A N/A 2,605 2,968 3,288 N/A 8.9
8 Mesa N/A N/A 3,832 2,975 3,240 N/A 10.8
9 Mesaba 3,045 2,909 2,701 3,277 2,555 -16.1 -22.0
10 Air Wisconsin 2,981 3,024 3,653 2,198 2,314 -22.4 5.3
11 Executive 2,074 1,846 1,785 1,750 1,682 -18.9 -3.9
12 PSA N/A N/A 1,692 1,570 1,432 N/A -8.8
13 Trans States 1,147 1,179 1,421 1,302 1,278 11.4 -1.8
14 Shuttle America N/A N/A N/A 711 1,104 N/A 55.3
15 Republic N/A N/A N/A 246 670 N/A 172.4
16 GoJet N/A N/A N/A 237 312 N/A 31.6
  Total 30,667 42,508 55,299 56,514 58,202 6.1 3.0

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 Percent Change 2002-2006 is based on the eight carriers reporting in both years.

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