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2008 Passenger Airline Employment by Job Category

2008 Passenger Airline Employment by Job Category

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BTS 26-09
Dave Smallen
202-366-5568

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 - U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 2.3 percent more pilots and 5.9 percent more maintenance workers in 2008 than in 2007 while total industry jobs declined by 3.0 percent, the U.S. Department of Transportations Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today (Table 1).

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the seven large network carriers employed 1.1 percent more pilots and 8.6 percent more maintenance workers in 2008 than in 2007. The seven largest low-cost carriers employed 5.2 percent more pilots and 6.8 percent fewer maintenance workers from 2007 to 2008.

Delta Air Lines had the largest increase in pilots of any network airline from 2007 to 2008 while Alaska Airlines had the greatest percentage decrease in pilot employment of the network airlines. United Airlines had the largest increase in maintenance workers of any network airline from 2007 to 2008 while Northwest Airlines had the smallest increase (Table 2).

All of the low-cost carriers except Frontier Airlines added pilots from 2007 to 2008. Spirit Airlines had the largest increase in pilot employment followed by Allegiant Airlines. Allegiant had the largest increase in maintenance workers of any low-cost airline from 2007 to 2008 while Spirit had the largest reduction (Table 3).

Scheduled passenger airlines include network, low-cost, regional and other airlines. Network carriers operate a significant portion of their flights using at least one hub where connections are made for flights on a spoke system. Low-cost carriers are those that the industry recognizes as operating under a low-cost business model, with lower infrastructure and aircraft operating costs.

The merged US Airways and America West Airlines began joint reporting of annual employment numbers in 2008. US Airways employment numbers for previous years do not include America West, which is included in Tables 1, 4 and 7 as a low-cost carrier for 2000 and 2006. America West did not file a 2007 report.

Airlines that meet the reporting standards report annual employment numbers by job category to BTS. The annual numbers are a 12-month average for the year and are not comparable to the full-time equivalent employee numbers issued monthly by BTS.

Airlines that operate at least one aircraft with the capacity to carry combined passengers, cargo and fuel of 18,000 pounds the payload factor and have annual operating revenue of more than $20 million must report annual employment data.

Pilots

The seven network carriers employed 13.2 pilots per aircraft in 2008, down from 13.5 pilots per aircraft in 2007. The low-cost carriers employed 11.2 pilots per aircraft in 2008, down 1.8 percent from 11.4 pilots per aircraft in 2007 (Table 4).

Alaska had 12.0 pilots per aircraft in 2008, down from 12.9 per aircraft in 2007, the fewest of any network airline. Delta, with 14.9 per aircraft, up from 14.3 per aircraft in 2008, had the largest increase in the number of pilots per aircraft from 2007 to 2008 and had the most pilots per aircraft of any network carrier (Table 5).

Allegiant had 9.3 pilots per aircraft in 2008, the fewest of any low-cost airline, compared to 9.6 pilots per aircraft in 2007. Spirit, with 15.5 per aircraft, up from 12.6 per aircraft in 2007 had the most pilots per aircraft in the low-cost group (Table 6).

Maintenance

The passenger airlines had 8.9 maintenance workers per aircraft in 2008, up from 8.3 per aircraft in 2007. The network airlines had 12.9 maintenance workers per aircraft in 2008, up from 12.3 per aircraft in 2007. Spending by network airlines for outsourced maintenance increased from 42.5 percent of total maintenance spending in 2007 to 42.8 percent in 2008 (Table 7).

The low-cost airlines had 3.2 maintenance workers per aircraft in 2008, down from 3.7 per aircraft in 2007. Spending by low-cost airlines for outsourced maintenance increased from 52.1 percent of total maintenance spending in 2007 to 54.6 percent in 2007 (Table 7).

Northwest had 0.8 maintenance workers per aircraft in 2008, the fewest of any network airline and unchanged from the 0.8 employees per aircraft in 2007. Northwests spending for outsourcing declined from 71.0 percent of total spending in 2007 to 65.9 percent in 2008. American Airlines had 22.4 maintenance workers per aircraft in 2008, the most of any network airline. Americans spending for outsourcing was 23.6 percent of total maintenance spending in 2008, the lowest percentage spending share of the network carriers (Table 8).

Virgin America had 1.7 maintenance workers per aircraft in 2008 the fewest of any low-cost airline. Of the low-cost airlines, Spirit spent the smallest portion of its maintenance expense on outsourcing at 22.6 percent. Southwest had the highest percentage share for outsourcing at 61.3 percent. Frontier had 3.9 maintenance workers per aircraft in 2008, the most of any low-cost airline but down from 7.7 employees per aircraft in 2007. Frontiers spending for outsourcing increased from 20.5 percent of total maintenance spending in 2007 to 24.9 percent in 2008 (Table 9).

Reporting Notes

Data are compiled from annual reports filed with BTS by commercial air carriers as of May 20. There were 37 reporting scheduled passenger carriers in 2008. Hawaiian Airlines failed to file its report.

Additional airline employment data and the list of reporting carriers can be found on the BTS website at http://www.bts.gov/programs/airline_information/number_of_employees/labor_category/index.html

Table 1: Change in Passenger Airline Employees, Maintenance Workers and Pilots 2007-2008

Total Passenger Airlines, Network Airlines and Low-Cost Airlines

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  2000 2006 2007 2008 Pct. Change 2007-2008
Passenger Airlines*          
Total 523,208 415,434 421,463 408,964 -3
Maintenance 64,248 43,549 43,490 46,075 5.9
Pilots 66,119 64,804 63,648 65,084 2.3
Other 392,841 307,081 314,325 297,805 -5.3
Network (7 Airlines)**          
Total 425,233 274,194 288,767 282,993 -2
Maintenance 55,715 30,893 31,957 34,698 8.6
Pilots 50,201 33,993 35,186 35,565 1.1
Other 319,317 209,308 221,624 212,730 -4
Low-Cost (7 Airlines)***          
Total 58,836 71,214 60,876 62,775 3.1
Maintenance 3,630 4,088 3,234 3,015 -6.8
Pilots 8,039 11,155 10,102 10,632 5.2
Other 47,167 55,971 47,540 49,128 3.3
         

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, P-10

* All scheduled passenger airlines reporting annual employment numbers to BTS: 30 in 2000, 37 in 2006, 36 in 2007 and 37 in 2008.

** US Airways 2008 report followed merger with America West. Previous years do not include America West.

*** Nine airlines in 2000, eight in 2006 and 2007, seven in 2008. For numbers for largest low-cost carriers by revenue see Table 3.

Table 2: Change in Network Airline Employees, Maintenance Workers and Pilots 2007-2008

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  2000 2006 2007 2008 Pct. Change 2007-2008
Alaska          
Total 9,531 9,307 9,680 9,628 -0.5
Maintenance 562 152 699 727 4
Pilots 1,239 1,367 1,385 1,361 -1.7
Other 7,730 7,788 7,596 7,540 -0.7
American          
Total 92,665 72,757 71,818 70,923 -1.2
Maintenance 15,139 14,296 13,980 14,479 3.6
Pilots 10,408 8,572 8,343 8,306 -0.4
Other 67,118 49,889 49,495 48,138 -2.7
Continental          
Total 42,468 39,363 40,948 40,630 -0.8
Maintenance 3,443 3,676 3,808 3,889 2.1
Pilots 4,656 4,408 4,598 4,578 -0.4
Other 34,369 31,279 32,542 32,163 -1.2
Delta          
Total 71,384 45,562 47,286 47,420 0.3
Maintenance 5,728 4,872 5,240 5,272 0.6
Pilots 9,123 5,706 5,904 6,391 8.2
Other 56,533 34,984 36,142 35,757 -1.1
Northwest          
Total 51,553 30,729 29,619 29,124 -1.7
Maintenance 5,852 267 265 266 0.4
Pilots 5,981 4,531 4,340 4,345 0.1
Other 39,720 25,931 25,014 24,513 -2
United          
Total 95,327 55,027 55,160 52,585 -4.7
Maintenance 15,846 4,848 4,891 6,644 35.8
Pilots 11,278 6,277 6,338 6,350 0.2
Other 68,077 43,902 43,931 39,591 -9.9
US Airways*          
Total 42,652 21,449 34,256 32,683 -4.6
Maintenance 5,353 2,782 3,074 3,421 11.3
Pilots 5,330 3,132 4,278 4,234 -1
Other 31,969 15,536 26,904 25,028 -7
         

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, P-10

* US Airways 2008 report followed merger with America West. Previous years do not include America West.

Table 3: Change in Low-Cost Airline Employees, Maintenance Workers and Pilots 2007-2008

Excel | CSV

  2000 2006 2007 2008 Pct. Change 2007-2008
AirTran          
Total 4,035 7,415 8,304 8,259 -0.5
Maintenance 337 407 409 405 -1
Pilots 547 1,325 1,498 1,559 4.1
Other 3,173 5,683 6,397 6,295 -1.6
Allegiant*          
Total N/A 841 1,133 1,330 17.4
Maintenance N/A 70 88 122 38.6
Pilots N/A 178 268 307 14.6
Other N/A 616 811 901 11.1
Frontier          
Total 1,745 4,034 5,219 4,939 -5.4
Maintenance 231 363 418 225 -46.2
Pilots 547 655 704 641 -8.9
Other 967 3,019 4,097 4,073 -0.6
JetBlue          
Total 693 9,272 9,713 10,177 4.8
Maintenance 50 456 468 471 0.6
Pilots 203 1,451 1,707 1,794 5.1
Other 440 7,365 7,538 7,912 5
Southwest          
Total 28,671 32,167 33,680 34,680 3
Maintenance 1,146 1,643 1,682 1,701 1.1
Pilots 3,316 4,845 5,317 5,588 5.1
Other 24,209 25,679 26,681 27,391 2.7
Spirit          
Total 1,911 2,018 2,145 2,410 12.4
Maintenance 246 199 161 72 -55.3
Pilots 244 368 442 526 19
Other 1,421 1,463 1,542 1,812 17.5
Virgin America          
Total N/A N/A N/A 980 N/A
Maintenance N/A N/A N/A 19 N/A
Pilots N/A N/A N/A 217 N/A
Other N/A N/A N/A 744 N/A
         

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, P-10

* Allegiant did not meet the standard for reporting in 2000. The standard is operation of at least one aircraft with the capacity to carry combined passengers, cargo and fuel of 18,000 pounds the payload factor and annual operating revenue of more than $20 million.

Table 4: Change in Passenger Airline Pilots and Pilots Per Aircraft 2007-2008

Total Passenger Airlines, Network Airlines and Low-Cost Airlines

Excel | CSV

  2000 2006 2007 2008 Pct. Change 2007-2008
Passenger Airlines*          
Total Pilots 66,119 64,804 63,648 65,084 2.3
Pilots Per Aircraft 13.3 12.8 12.1 12.6 4.1
Network (7 Airlines)**          
Total Pilots 50,201 33,993 35,186 35,565 1.1
Pilots Per Aircraft 15 13.1 13.5 13.2 -2.2
Low-Cost (7 Airlines)***          
Total Pilots 8,039 11,155 10,102 10,632 5.2
Pilots Per Aircraft 12.7 12 11.4 11.2 -1.8
         

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, P-10

* All scheduled passenger airlines reporting annual employment numbers to BTS: 30 in 2000, 37 in 2006, 36 in 2007 and 37 in 2008.

** US Airways 2008 report followed merger with America West. Previous years do not include America West.

*** Nine airlines in 2000, eight in 2006 and 2007, seven in 2008. For numbers for largest low-cost carriers by revenue see Table 6.

Table 5: Change in Network Airline Pilots and Pilots Per Aircraft 2007-2008

Excel | CSV

  2000 2006 2007 2008 Pct. Change 2007-2008
Alaska          
Total Pilots 1,239 1,367 1,385 1,361 -1.7
Pilots Per Aircraft 13.6 12.3 12.9 12 -7
American          
Total Pilots 10,408 8,572 8,343 8,306 -0.4
Pilots Per Aircraft 14.7 12.5 13.3 12.9 -3
Continental          
Total Pilots 4,656 4,408 4,598 4,578 -0.4
Pilots Per Aircraft 12.9 12.6 13.7 12.8 -6.6
Delta          
Total Pilots 9,123 5,706 5,904 6,391 8.2
Pilots Per Aircraft 15.2 13.4 14.3 14.9 4.2
Northwest          
Total Pilots 5,981 4,531 4,340 4,345 0.1
Pilots Per Aircraft 14.2 12.1 12.4 12.9 4
United          
Total Pilots 11,278 6,277 6,338 6,350 0.2
Pilots Per Aircraft 18.8 13.6 14.7 14.3 -2.7
US Airways*          
Total Pilots 5,330 3,132 4,278 4,234 -1
Pilots Per Aircraft 13.4 13.1 12.6 11.8 -6.3
         

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, P-10

* US Airways 2008 report followed merger with America West. Previous years do not include America West

Table 6: Change in Low-Cost Airline Pilots and Pilots Per Aircraft 2007-2008

Excel | CSV

  2000 2006 2007 2008 Pct. Change 2007-2008
AirTran          
Total Pilots 547 1,325 1,498 1,559 4.1
Pilots Per Aircraft 11.4 11.6 12 11.5 -11.2
Allegiant*          
Total Pilots N/A 178 268 307 14.6
Pilots Per Aircraft N/A 14.2 9.6 9.3 -3.1
Frontier          
Total Pilots 547 655 704 641 -8.9
Pilots Per Aircraft 12.5 13.9 13 11.1 -14.6
JetBlue          
Total Pilots 203 1,451 1,707 1,794 4.1
Pilots Per Aircraft 38.3 13.1 14.1 12.9 -8.5
Southwest          
Total Pilots 3,316 4,845 5,317 5,588 5.1
Pilots Per Aircraft 10.2 10.5 11.2 10.5 -6.2
Spirit          
Total Pilots 244 368 442 526 19
Pilots Per Aircraft 10.2 11.5 12.6 15.5 23
Virgin America          
Total Pilots N/A N/A N/A 217 N/A
Pilots Per Aircraft N/A N/A N/A 11.4 N/A
         

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, P-10

* Allegiant did not meet the standard for reporting in 2000. The standard is operation of at least one aircraft with the capacity to carry combined passengers, cargo and fuel of 18,000 pounds the payload factor and annual operating revenue of more than $20 million.

Table 7: Change in Passenger Airline Maintenance Employees Per Aircraft and Percent of Maintenance Spending Outsourced* 2007-2008

Total Passenger Airlines, Network Airlines and Low-Cost Airlines

Excel | CSV

  2000 2006 2007 2008 Pct. Change 2007-2008
Passenger Airlines**          
Maintenance Employees 64,248 43,549 43,490 46,075 5.9
Maintenance Empl Per Aircraft 13 8.6 8.3 8.9 7.2
Pct. Maint. Expense Outsourced 29.6 44.9 45.3 45.2 -0.1 Pt
Network (7 Airlines)***          
Maintenance Employees 55,715 30,893 31,957 34,698 8.6
Maintenance Empl Per Aircraft 16.6 11.9 12.3 12.9 4.9
Pct. Maint. Expense Outsourced 24.3 41.7 42.5 42.8 0.3 Pt
Low-Cost (7 Airlines)****          
Maintenance Employees 3,630 4,088 3,234 3,015 -6.8
Maintenance Empl Per Aircraft 5.7 4.4 3.7 3.2 -13.5
Pct. Maint. Expense Outsourced 52.0 52.6 52.1 54.6 0.5 Pt
         

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, P-10

* Percent of total maintenance spending that is contracted outside the airline

** All scheduled passenger airlines reporting annual employment numbers to BTS: 30 in 2000, 37 in 2006, 36 in 2007 and 37 in 2008.

*** US Airways 2008 report followed merger with America West. Previous years do not include America West.

**** Nine airlines in 2000, eight in 2006 and 2007, seven in 2008. For numbers for largest low-cost carriers by revenue see Table 9.

Table 8: Change in Network Airline Maintenance Employees Per Aircraft and Percent of Maintenance Spending Outsourced* 2007-2008

Excel | CSV

  2000 2006 2007 2008 Pct. Change 2007-2008
Alaska          
Maintenance 562 152 699 727 4.0
Maintenance Empl Per Aircraft 6.2 1.4 6.5 6.4 -1.5
Pct. Maint. Expense Outsourced 76.2 53.5 53.8 54.8 1.0 Pt
American          
Maintenance 15,139 14,296 13,980 14,479 3.6
Maintenance Empl Per Aircraft 21.4 20.9 22.4 22.4 0.0
Pct. Maint. Expense Outsourced 23.4 22.8 23.4 23.6 0.2 Pt
Continental          
Maintenance 3,443 3,676 3,808 3,889 2.1
Maintenance Empl Per Aircraft 9.6 10.5 11.4 10.9 -4.4
Pct. Maint. Expense Outsourced 46.6 48.1 49.2 47.7 -1.5 Pts
Delta          
Maintenance 5,728 4,872 5,240 5,272 0.6
Maintenance Empl Per Aircraft 9.5 13.1 12.7 12.3 -3.1
Pct. Maint. Expense Outsourced 18.8 38.8 31.7 30.7 -1.0 Pt
Northwest          
Maintenance 5,852 267 265 266 0.4
Maintenance Empl Per Aircraft 13.9 0.7 0.8 0.8 0.0
Pct. Maint. Expense Outsourced 23.8 69.5 71.0 65.9 -5.1 Pts
United          
Maintenance 15,846 4,848 4,891 6,644 35.8
Maintenance Empl Per Aircraft 26.4 10.5 11.4 15.0 31.6
Pct. Maint. Expense Outsourced 16.3 44.9 45.7 44.3 -1.4 Pts
US Airways**          
Maintenance 5,353 2,782 3,074 3,421 11.3
Maintenance Empl Per Aircraft 13.5 11.6 9.0 9.6 6.7
Pct. Maint. Expense Outsourced 29.6 43.2 55.0 63.7 8.7 Pts
         

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, P-10

* Percent of total maintenance spending that is contracted outside the airline

** US Airways 2008 report followed merger with America West. Previous years do not include America West.

Table 9: Change in Low-Cost Airline Maintenance Employees Per Aircraft and Percent of Maintenance Spending Outsourced* 2007-2008

Excel | CSV

  2000 2006 2007 2008 Pct. Change 2007-2008
AirTran          
Maintenance Employees 337 407 409 405 -1.0
Maintenance Empl Per Aircraft 7.0 3.6 3.3 3.0 -9.1
Pct. Maint. Expense Outsourced 39.2 48.5 48.4 49.6 1.2 Pts
Allegiant*          
Maintenance Employees N/A 70 88 122 38.6
Maintenance Empl Per Aircraft N/A 6.4 3.1 3.7 19.4
Pct. Maint. Expense Outsourced N/A 38.1 34.6 36.3 1.7 Pts
Frontier          
Maintenance Employees 231 363 418 225 -46.2
Maintenance Empl Per Aircraft 12.8 7.7 7.7 3.9 -49.4
Pct. Maint. Expense Outsourced 16.6 16.8 20.5 24.9 4.4 Pts
JetBlue          
Maintenance Employees 50 456 468 471 0.6
Maintenance Empl Per Aircraft 10.0 4.1 3.9 3.4 -12.8
Pct. Maint. Expense Outsourced 6.8 44.2 45.7 49.9 4.2 Pts
Southwest          
Maintenance Employees 1,146 1,643 1,682 1,701 1.1
Maintenance Empl Per Aircraft 3.5 3.6 3.5 3.2 -8.6
Pct. Maint. Expense Outsourced 60.0 56.2 60.5 61.3 0.8 Pt
Spirit          
Maintenance Employees 246 199 161 72 -55.3
Maintenance Empl Per Aircraft 10.3 6.2 4.6 2.1 -54.3
Pct. Maint. Expense Outsourced 0.0 10.0 18.9 22.6 3.7 Pts
Virgin America          
Maintenance Employees N/A N/A N/A 19 N/A
Maintenance Empl Per Aircraft N/A N/A N/A 1.7 N/A
Pct. Maint. Expense Outsourced N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, P-10

* Percent of total maintenance spending that is contracted outside the airline

** Allegiant did not meet the standard for reporting in 2000. The standard is operation of at least one aircraft with the capacity to carry combined passengers, cargo and fuel of 18,000 pounds the payload factor and annual operating revenue of more than $20 million.