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January 2015 Passenger Airline Employment Data

Press Release Number: 
BTS 14-15
Date: 
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Media Contact: 
Dave Smallen, 202-366-5568

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U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 386,544 workers in January 2015, 1.2 percent more than in January 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. January was the 14th consecutive month that full-time equivalent (FTE) employment for U.S. scheduled passenger airlines exceeded the same month of the previous year (Tables 1, 2, 3).

Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-Time Equivalent Employees,
Month of January, 1990-2015

Table Version | Excel

Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-Time Equivalent Employees, Month of January, 1990-2015

Month-to-month, the number of FTEs rose 0.1 percent from December to January, following a one-month decline (Table 1A). Scheduled passenger airline categories include network, low-cost, regional and other airlines. Historical employment data can be found on the BTS web site.

The five network airlines that collectively employ two-thirds of the scheduled passenger airline FTEs reported 0.8 percent more FTEs in January 2015 than in January 2014 (Table 7). Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and US Airways increased FTEs from January 2014 while United Airlines reduced FTEs (Table 9). Month-to-month, the number of network airline FTEs rose 0.1 percent from December to January, rising for the fourth consecutive month (Table 1A). Network airlines 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.

The six low-cost carriers reported 4.6 percent more FTEs in January 2015 than in January 2014 (Table 10).  ­ Allegiant Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and Virgin America – all reported increases (Table 12). Month-to-month, the number of low-cost airline FTEs rose 0.7 percent from December to January, rising after a one-month decline (Table 1A). Low-cost airlines operate under a low-cost business model, with infrastructure and aircraft operating costs below the overall industry average.

The 12 regional carriers reported 1.9 percent fewer FTEs in January 2015 than in January 2014 (Table 13). Seven regional airlines – PSA Airlines, Mesa Airlines, Republic Airlines, Compass Airlines and Horizon Air – reported increased employment levels (Table 15). Month-to-month, the number of regional airline FTEs fell 1.2 percent from December to January, declining for the second consecutive month (Table 1A). Regional carriers typically provide service from small cities, using primarily regional jets to support the network carriers’ hub and spoke systems.

Carrier Groups: The five network airlines employed 66.6 percent of the total number of FTEs employed by all scheduled passenger airlines in January, the six low-cost carriers employed 18.9 percent and the 12 regional carriers employed 12.8 percent (Table 4). The three airlines with the most FTEs in January – United, Delta and American – employed 55.7 percent of the month’s total passenger airline FTEs (Tables 3, 6).

Top Employers by Group: United employed the most FTEs (78,401) in January among the network airlines, Southwest employed the most FTEs (46,588) among low-cost airlines, and Envoy Air employed the most FTEs (10,693) among regional airlines. Four of the top five employers in the industry are network airlines (Table 6).    

Airline Mergers: Airlines that announce mergers typically begin joint reporting following U.S. Department of Transportation approval and issuance of a single economic certificate.  Southwest and AirTran Airways began joint reporting of their financial data, including employment numbers, in April 2012 under a waiver granted by the Department, while continuing to report all other data as separate carriers through December 2014. American and US Airways, following their December 2013 merger announcement, will report separately until the Department approves single carrier reporting and a single economic certificate is issued.

Network Airlines

Recent Changes: The network airlines employed 0.8 percent more FTEs in January 2015 than in January 2014 and 0.5 percent fewer FTEs in January 2015 than in January 2011 (Tables 8, 9).

Low-Cost Airlines

Recent Changes: The six low-cost airlines employed 4.6 percent more FTEs in January 2015 than in January 2014 and 12.2 percent more FTEs in January 2015 than in January 2011 (Tables 11, 12).

Regional Airlines

Recent Changes: Regional airlines employed 1.9 percent fewer FTEs in January 2015 than in January 2014.  The 12 regional carriers operating in January 2015 employed 6.2 percent fewer FTEs in January 2015 than the 18 carriers reporting in January 2011 (Tables 14, 15).

Envoy operated as American Eagle prior to April 2014. Endeavor operated as Pinnacle prior to August 2013.

Reporting Notes

Airlines that operate at least one aircraft that has more than 60 seats or the capacity to carry a payload of passengers, cargo and fuel weighing more than 18,000 pounds must report monthly employment statistics.

The “Other Carrier” category generally reflects those airlines that operate within specific niche markets such as the Hawaiian Islands served by Hawaiian Airlines and Island Air Hawaii. 

Data are compiled from monthly reports filed with BTS by commercial air carriers as of March 11.  Additional airline employment data and previous press releases can be found on the BTS website. BTS has scheduled release of February passenger airline employment data for April 23.

 

Table 1: Yearly Change in Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Airline Group

Most recent 13 months - percent change compared to same month the previous year

  Network Airlines Low-Cost Airlines Regional Airlines All Passenger Airlines**
Jan 2013-Jan 2014 0.4 0.3 -0.4 0.5
Feb 2013-Feb 2014 0.1 0.7 0.5 0.4
Mar 2013-Mar 2014 0.6 0.8 0.9 0.8
Apr 2013-Apr 2014 0.4 1.5 2.3 1.0
May 2013-May 2014 0.5 1.8 2.4 1.1
Jun 2013-Jun 2014 0.3 2.2 1.9 0.9
Jul 2013-Jul 2014 0.4 2.5 3.5 1.3
Aug 2013-Aug 2014 0.1 3.0 2.5 1.0
Sep 2013-Sep 2014 0.4 2.9 1.9 1.1
Oct 2013-Oct 2014 0.3 3.8 -0.2 0.9
Nov 2013-Nov 2014 0.4 5.2 1.5 1.5
Dec 2013-Dec 2014 0.8 4.4 -0.2 1.4
Jan 2014-Jan 2015 0.8 4.6 -1.9 1.2

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. Other Carriers generally operate within specific niche markets. They are: Hawaiian Airlines, Sun Country Airlines and Island Air Hawaii.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Note: See Table 2 for all passenger airlines, Table 7 for Network, Table 10 for Low-Cost and Table 13 for Regional.

 

Table 1A: Monthly Change in Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Airline Group

Percent change in FTEs from the previous month

  Network Airlines Low-Cost Airlines Regional Airlines All Passenger Airlines**
Jan 2014-Feb 2014 -0.1 0.6 0.1 0.0
Feb 2014-Mar 2014 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.4
Mar 2014-Apr 2014 0.2 0.5 -0.2 0.2
Apr 2014-May 2014 0.3 0.5 0.2 0.4
May 2014-Jun 2014 0.0 0.0 -0.6 -0.1
Jun 2014-Jul 2014 0.0 0.3 1.5 0.3
Jul 2014-Aug 2014 -0.6 0.2 -0.9 -0.5
Aug 2014-Sep 2014 0.0 0.1 -0.3 0.0
Sep 2014-Oct 2014 0.1 1.0 -1.4 0.1
Oct 2014- Nov 2014 0.2 1.3 1.6 0.6
Nov 2014-Dec 2014 0.2 -0.8 -1.0 -0.2
Dec 2014-Jan 2015 0.1 0.7 -1.2 0.1

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. Other Carriers generally operate within specific niche markets. They are: Hawaiian Airlines, Sun Country Airlines and Island Air Hawaii.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Note: See Table 2 for all passenger airlines, Table 7 for Network, Table 10 for Low-Cost and Table 13 for Regional.

 

Table 2: Change from Previous Year in Scheduled Passenger Airline* Full-time Equivalent Employees**

Percent change compared to same month the previous year

Month 2012 2013 2014 2015
January 2.1 -2.3 0.5 1.2
February 2.1 -2.5 0.4  
March 2.1 -2.7 0.8  
April 1.8 -2.4 1.0  
May 1.6 -2.5 1.1  
June 1.4 -2.4 0.9  
July 0.8 -2.6 1.3  
August 0.1 -2.2 1.0  
September -0.6 -1.6 1.1  
October -1.3 -0.8 0.9  
November -2.0 -0.1 1.5  
December -2.6 0.3 1.4  

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 based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 3: Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Month 2011-2015

Month 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Percent Change
2011-2015 2014-2015
January 380,949 388,778 380,042 381,819 386,544 1.5 1.2
February 381,831 389,901 380,375 381,985      
March 382,796 390,761 380,536 383,575      
April 383,411 390,243 380,957 384,265      
May 384,974 390,957 381,423 385,619      
June 385,383 390,923 381,672 385,243      
July 386,843 391,286 381,299 386,243      
August 388,523 389,000 380,564 384,478      
September 388,641 386,372 380,165 384,439      
October 389,444 384,310 381,178 384,700      
November 389,361 381,639 381,224 386,912      
December 389,728 379,576 380,809 386,222      
Jan-Dec Average 385,990 387,812 380,854 384,625      

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 4: Airline Group Full-time Equivalent Employees*, January 2011-2015

  Network Low-Cost Regional All Passenger Airlines**
2011 255,433 64,978 52,764 377,728
2012 259,749 68,684 52,796 385,965
2013 254,377 69,465 50,640 380,042
2014 255,518 69,693 50,425 381,819
2015 257,627 72,909 49,484 386,544
Pct. Change 2011-2015 0.9% 12.2% -6.2% 2.3%
Percent of Total Passenger Airline Employees in 2015 66.6% 18.9% 12.8% 100%

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.

 

Table 5: Year-to-Year Change in Airline Group Full-time Equivalent Employees*, January 2011-2015

Percent change in FTEs from the same month of the previous year

  Network Low-Cost Regional All Passenger Airlines**
2011 -1.6 2.2 0.4 -0.9
2012 -1.1 5.7 0.1 1.7
2013 -3.1 1.1 -4.1 -2.3
2014 0.4 0.3 -0.4 0.5
2015 0.8 4.6 -1.9 1.2

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

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

 

Table 6: Top 10 Airlines, January 2015

Ranked by Number of Full-Time Equivalent Employees*

Rank Airline Total FTE Employees Carrier Group** Top 10 Airlines January 2014
1 United 78,401 Network United
2 Delta 76,011 Network Delta
3 American 60,999 Network American
4 Southwest 46,588 Low-Cost Southwest
5 US Airways 32,014 Network US Airways
6 JetBlue 13,751 Low-Cost JetBlue
7 Envoy** 10,693 Regional American Eagle
8 Alaska 10,202 Network SkyWest
9 SkyWest 9,700 Regional Alaska
10 ExpressJet 8,525 Regional ExpressJet

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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

** Envoy operated as American Eagle prior to April 2014

*** See Table 9 for Network, Table 12 for Low-Cost and Table 15 for Regional.

 

Table 7: Network Airline Year-to-Year Change in Full-time Equivalent Employees* from the Previous Year

Percent change compared to same month of the previous year

  2012 2013 2014 2015
January 1.5 -3.1 0.4 0.8
February 1.2 -3.0 0.1  
March 1.2 -3.3 0.6  
April 1.3 -3.0 0.4  
May 1.3 -3.0 0.5  
June 1.4 -2.8 0.3  
July 0.8 -2.8 0.4  
August -0.2 -2.5 0.1  
September -0.8 -2.1 0.4  
October -1.4 -1.4 0.3  
November -2.4 -0.4 0.4  
December -3.3 0.4 0.8  

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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

 

Table 8: Network Airlines Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Month 2011-2015

Month 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Percent Change
2011-2015 2014-2015
January 258,889 262,561 254,377 255,518 257,627 -0.5 0.8
February 259,545 262,788 254,955 255,158      
March 260,454 263,464 254,870 256,342      
April 260,347 263,666 255,673 256,732      
May 260,832 264,183 256,272 257,578      
June 260,689 264,301 256,791 257,491      
July 261,818 263,793 256,474 257,541      
August 263,063 262,428 255,800 256,095      
September 262,639 260,649 255,194 256,133      
October 262,912 259,245 255,741 256,409      
November 263,129 256,836 255,914 256,823      
December 262,617 254,065 255,155 257,251      
Jan-Dec Average 261,392 261,498 255,601 256,589      

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 9: Network Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees*, January 2011-2015

(FTEs for January of each year. Ranked by January 2015 FTEs)

Rank Airline 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Percent Change
2011-2015 2014-2015
1 UA/CO Combined 80,560 81,352 82,209 81,368 78,401 -2.7 -3.6
  United** 43,647 81,352 82,209 81,368 78,401 N/A -3.6
  Continental** 36,913 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
2 Delta 73,994 73,174 73,174 73,372 76,011 2.7 3.6
3 American 65,680 65,868 59,426 59,686 60,999 -7.1 2.2
4 US Airways 29,701 30,390 30,318 31,574 32,014 7.8 1.4
5 Alaska 8,954 8,965 9,250 9,518 10,202 13.9 7.2
  Total 258,889 259,749 254,377 255,518 257,627 -0.5 0.8

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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

** United Airlines and Continental Airlines merged and began reporting combined numbers in January 2012.

 

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

Percent change compared to same month of the previous year

Month 2012 2013 2014 2015
January 5.7 1.1 0.3 4.6
February 6.4 0.2 0.7  
March 7.1 -0.1 0.8  
April 5.7 -0.3 1.5  
May 5.3 -0.3 1.8  
June 4.0 -0.6 2.2  
July 3.5 -0.4 2.5  
August 2.5 0.0 3.0  
September 2.5 -0.2 2.9  
October 1.9 -0.1 3.8  
November 1.4 -0.1 5.2  
December 1.3 -0.6 4.4  

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 11: Low-Cost Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Month 2011-2015

  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Percent Change
2011-2015 2014-2015
January 64,978 68,684 69,464 69,693 72,909 12.2 4.6
February 65,321 69,473 69,595 70,135      
March 65,273 69,886 69,853 70,384      
April 66,114 69,861 69,675 70,751      
May 66,553 70,053 69,817 71,095      
June 67,261 69,969 69,574 71,074      
July 67,373 69,756 69,510 71,272      
August 67,682 69,380 69,364 71,387      
September 67,875 69,573 69,426 71,428      
October 68,269 69,551 69,496 72,110      
November 68,450 69,441 69,402 73,014      
December 68,887 69,781 69,365 72,399      
Jan-Dec Average 67,003 69,617 69,545 71,229      

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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

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

 

Table 12: Low-Cost Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees*, January 2011-2015

(FTEs for January of each year. Ranked by January 2015 FTEs)

Rank   2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Percent Change
2011-2015 2014-2015
1 WN/FL Combined 42,993 45,692 45,835 44,983 46,588 8.4 3.6
  Southwest** 35,143 38,203 45,835 44,983 46,588 N/A 3.6
  AirTran 7,850 7,489 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
2 JetBlue 11,422 12,350 12,593 13,119 13,751 20.4 4.8
3 Spirit 2,243 2,536 2,992 3,604 4,033 79.8 11.9
4 Frontier 4,899 4,535 3,866 3,412 3,612 -26.3 5.9
5 Virgin America 1,795 1,966 2,371 2,495 2,528 40.8 1.3
6 Allegiant 1,627 1,607 1,808 2,080 2,397 47.3 15.2
  Total 64,979 68,684 69,465 69,693 72,909 12.2 4.6

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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

** Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways merged and began reporting combined employment numbers in April 2012.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

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

Percent change compared to same month of the previous year

Month 2012 2013 2014 2015
January 0.1 -4.1 -0.4 -1.9
February 0.8 -5.0 0.5  
March 0.2 -4.6 0.9  
April -1.5 -3.8 2.3  
May -2.2 -4.5 2.4  
June -2.5 -4.4 1.9  
July -3.3 -6.3 3.5  
August -2.3 -5.1 2.5  
September -4.3 -3.0 1.9  
October -6.0 -0.8 -0.2  
November -5.4 -0.5 1.5  
December -5.4 -0.5 -0.2  

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 14: Regional Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Month 2011-2015

  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Percent Change
2011-2015 2014-2015
January 52,764 52,796 50,640 50,425 49,484 -6.2 -1.9
February 52,409 52,831 50,188 50,458      
March 52,468 52,581 50,180 50,623      
April 52,596 51,811 49,861 50,526      
May 52,930 51,746 49,478 50,633      
June 52,984 51,664 49,415 50,336      
July 53,197 52,715 49,387 51,107      
August 53,284 52,082 49,434 50,671      
September 53,361 51,082 49,546 50,512      
October 53,490 50,305 49,890 49,789      
November 52,954 50,100 49,851 50,605      
December 53,328 50,426 50,191 50,083      
Jan-Dec Average 52,980 51,678 49,838 50,481      

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 15: Regional Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees*, January 2011-2015

(FTEs for January of each year. Ranked by January 2015 FTEs)

Rank   2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Percent Change
2011-2015 2014-2015
1 Envoy** 9,523 10,065 11,324 11,017 10,693 12.3 -2.9
2 SkyWest 9,049 9,446 9,400 9,816 9,700 7.2 -1.2
3 XE/EV Combined 9,242 9,387 8,832 9,178 8,525 -7.8 -7.1
  ExpressJet*** 5,538 9,387 8,832 9,178 8,525 53.9 -7.1
  Atlantic Southeast*** 3,704 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
4 9E/XJ Combined 5,592 5,185 4,902 3,911 3,383 -39.5 -13.5
  Endeavor**** 3,431 5,185 4,902 3,911 3,383 -1.4 -13.5
  Mesaba**** 2,161 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
5 Republic 2,127 2,813 2,706 2,795 3,141 47.7 12.4
6 Horizon 3,090 1,966 2,160 2,747 2,881 -6.8 4.9
9 Air Wisconsin 2,546 2,590 2,535 2,512 1,914 -24.8 -23.8
7 Mesa 2,022 1,563 2,035 1,977 2,272 12.4 14.9
8 S5/RP Combined 1,291 1,815 1,542 1,817 2,770 N/A 52.4
  Shuttle America# 1,291 1,815 1,542 1,817 2,763 N/A N/A
  Chautauqua# N/A 761 1,019 1,131 7 N/A N/A
10 PSA 992 1,043 1,097 1,196 1,799 81.4 50.4
11 Compass 895 1,059 1,078 1,166 1,294 44.6 11.0
12 GoJet 575 N/A 1,249 1,162 1,112 93.4 -4.3
14 Executive## 1,851 1,695 761 N/A N/A N/A N/A
15 Colgan### 1,495 1,680 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
16 Comair#### 2,363 1,732 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
17 Lynx##### 114 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
  Total 54,058 52,796 50,640 50,425 49,484 -8.5 -1.9

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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

** Envoy Air operated as American Eagle prior to April 2014.

*** ExpressJet Airlines and Atlantic Southeast Airlines began reporting combined numbers in January 2012.

**** Endeavor Airlines operated as Pinnacle prior to August 2013. Pinnacle Airlines and Mesaba Airlines began reporting combined numbers in January 2012.

# Effective July 2012 Chautauqua Airlines began reporting employment data. Effective the end of December 2014, Shuttle America and Chautauqua combined operations and Chautauqua ceased operating.

## Effective the end of March 2013, Executive Airlines ceased operations.

### Effective the end of September 2012, Colgan Airlines ceased operations.

#### Effective the end of October 2012, Comair ceased operations.

##### Effective the end of March 2011, Lynx Airlines ceased operations.

N/A: Carriers did not meet the standard for filing, was no longer operating, merged with another operating carrier or failed to file. See previous notes.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.