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2010 Passenger Airline Employment by Job Category

2010 Passenger Airline Employment by Job Category

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BTS 27-11
Dave Smallen
202-366-5568

Thursday, May 26, 2011 - U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 4.9 percent more pilots and 1.1 percent more maintenance workers in 2010 than in 2009 while total industry jobs declined by 0.5 percent, 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, reported that the six large network carriers employed 1.3 percent fewer pilots and 2.3 percent more maintenance workers in 2010 than in 2009. A separate group of the seven largest low-cost carriers employed 11.2 percent more pilots and 1.5 percent more maintenance workers from 2009 to 2010. The group of regional airlines employed 4.9 percent more pilots and 3.3 percent fewer maintenance workers from 2009 to 2010 (Table 1). Employment numbers for individual regional airlines can be found on the BTS website.

Alaska Airlines had the largest decrease in maintenance employees for the network airlines at 6.7 percent.  US Airways had the largest decrease in pilot employees for the network airlines at 2.6 percent. Delta Air Lines’ employment increases reflect its merger with Northwest Airlines that became effective for reporting purposes in January 2010 (Table 2). 

All the low-cost carriers added pilots from 2009 to 2010 while only Southwest and Spirit Airlines reduced maintenance employees for this period.  Allegiant had the largest increase in maintenance employees at 51.0 percent.  Virgin America had the largest increase in pilot employees at 43.6 percent (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 2009.  US Airways’ employment numbers for previous years do not include America West, which is included in Table 1 as a low-cost carrier for 2000. 

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 and Maintenance

Numbers of pilots and maintenance workers per aircraft and maintenance outsourcing will be available following the release of fourth quarter 2010 airline financial data.

Reporting Notes

Data are compiled from annual reports filed with BTS by commercial air carriers as of May 23. There were 34 reporting scheduled passenger carriers in 2010.

Additional airline employment data and the list of reporting carriers can be found on the BTS website.

Table 1: Change in Passenger Airline Employees, Maintenance Workers and Pilots 2009-2010

Total Passenger Airlines, Network Airlines, Low-Cost and Regional Airlines

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  2000 2008 2009 2010 Pct. Change 2009-2010
Passenger Airlines*          
Total 523,208 408,964 392,018 390,053 -0.5
Maintenance 64,248 46,075 42,774 43,249 1.1
Pilots 66,119 65,084 60,908 63,874 4.9
Other 392,841 297,805 288,336 282,930 -1.9
Network (6 Airlines)**          
Total 425,233 282,993 268,278 265,822 -0.9
Maintenance 55,715 34,698 31,448 32,167 2.3
Pilots 50,201 35,565 33,994 33,546 -1.3
Other 319,317 212,730 202,836 200,109 -1.3
Low-Cost (7 Airlines)***          
Total 60,207 62,775 63,306 64,544 2.0
Maintenance 3,375 3,015 3,300 3,349 1.5
Pilots 8,626 10,632 10,599 11,787 11.2
Other 48,206 49,128 49,407 49,408 0.0
Regionals (18 Airlines)****          
Total 23,223 58,253 55,282 54,070 -2.2
Maintenance 2,774 7,821 7,522 7,275 -3.3
Pilots 5,090 17,527 17,131 17,972 4.9
Other 15,359 32,905 30,629 28,823 -5.9

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, P-10

* All scheduled passenger airlines reporting annual employment numbers to BTS: 30 in 2000, 37 in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

** Seven airlines in 2000, 2008 and 2009, six in 2010.

*** Nine airlines in 2000, seven in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

****Five airlines in 2000, sixteen in 2008 and 2009, eighteen in 2010.

Table 2: Change in Network Airline Employees, Maintenance Workers and Pilots 2009-2010

Excel | CSV

  2000 2008 2009 2010 Pct. Change 2009-2010
Alaska          
Total 9,531 9,628 8,912 8,649 -3.0
Maintenance 562 727 701 654 -6.7
Pilots 1,239 1,361 1,236 1,218 -1.5
Other 7,730 7,540 6,975 6,777 -2.8
American          
Total 92,665 70,923 66,519 65,506 -1.5
Maintenance 15,139 14,479 12,580 12,621 0.3
Pilots 10,408 8,306 8,092 7,934 -2.0
Other 67,118 48,138 45,847 44,951 -2.0
Continental          
Total 42,468 40,630 38,720 37,760 -2.5
Maintenance 3,443 3,889 3,877 3,877 0.0
Pilots 4,656 4,578 4,227 4,199 -0.7
Other 34,369 32,163 30,616 29,684 -3.0
Delta*          
Total 71,384 47,420 46,372 76,742 65.5
Maintenance 5,728 5,272 5,313 7,315 37.7
Pilots 9,123 6,391 6,581 10,701 62.6
Other 56,533 35,757 34,478 58,726 70.3
Northwest*          
Total 51,553 29,124 29,828 N/A N/A
Maintenance 5,852 266 1,225 N/A N/A
Pilots 5,981 4,345 4,204 N/A N/A
Other 39,720 24,513 24,399 N/A N/A
United          
Total 95,327 52,585 46,587 46,289 -0.6
Maintenance 15,846 6,644 4,108 4,172 1.6
Pilots 11,278 6,350 5,581 5,527 -0.9
Other 68,077 39,591 36,898 36,590 -0.8
US Airways          
Total 42,652 32,683 31,340 30,876 -1.5
Maintenance 5,353 3,421 3,644 3,528 -3.2
Pilots 5,330 4,234 4,073 3,967 -2.6
Other 31,969 25,028 23,623 23,381 -1.0

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, P-10

* Beginning with 2010 data, Delta began reporting combined former Northwest/Delta data.

** 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 2009-2010

Excel | CSV

  2000 2008 2009 2010 Pct. Change 2009-2010
AirTran          
Total 4,035 8,259 8,220 8,229 0.1
Maintenance 337 405 358 375 4.7
Pilots 547 1,559 1,535 1,622 5.7
Other 3,173 6,295 6,327 6,232 -1.5
Allegiant*          
Total N/A 1,330 1,533 1,585 3.4
Maintenance N/A 122 157 237 51.0
Pilots N/A 307 287 328 14.3
Other N/A 901 1,089 1,020 -6.3
Frontier          
Total 1,745 4,939 4,774 4,309 -9.7
Maintenance 231 225 237 245 3.4
Pilots 547 641 634 674 6.3
Other 967 4,073 3,903 3,390 -13.1
JetBlue          
Total 693 10,177 10,583 11,211 5.9
Maintenance 50 471 527 558 5.9
Pilots 203 1,794 1,795 1,828 1.8
Other 440 7,912 8,261 8,825 6.8
Southwest          
Total 28,671 34,680 34,874 35,089 0.6
Maintenance 1,146 1,701 1,746 1,645 -5.8
Pilots 3,316 5,588 5,634 6,423 14.0
Other 24,209 27,391 27,494 27,021 -1.7
Spirit          
Total 1,911 2,410 1,901 2,351 23.7
Maintenance 246 72 178 157 -11.8
Pilots 244 526 416 484 16.3
Other 1,421 1,812 1,307 1,710 30.8
Virgin America**          
Total N/A 980 1,421 1,770 24.6
Maintenance N/A 19 97 132 36.1
Pilots N/A 217 298 428 43.6
Other N/A 744 1,026 1,210 17.9

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, P-10

* Allegiant did not meet the reporting standard 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.

** Virgin America did not begin operating until August 2007.