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October 2014 Passenger Airline Employment Data

Press Release Number: 
BTS 60-14
Date: 
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Media Contact: 
Dave Smallen, 202-366-5568

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U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 384,700 workers in October 2014, 0.9 percent more than in October 2013, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. October was the 11th consecutive month that full-time equivalent (FTE) employment for U.S. scheduled passenger airlines was higher than the same month of the previous year (Tables 1, 2, 3).

Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-Time Equivalent Employees,
Month of October, 1990-2014

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Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-Time Equivalent Employees, Month of October, 1990-2014

The October 2014 FTE total for scheduled passenger airlines was 3,522 more than in October 2013 (Table 3). 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 0.3 percent more FTEs in October 2014 than in October 2013 (Table 7). Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and US Airways increased FTEs from October 2013 while United Airlines reduced FTEs (Table 9). 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 ­– Allegiant Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and Virgin America – all reported increases in FTEs from October 2013 (Table 12). Low-cost airlines operate under a low-cost business model, with infrastructure and aircraft operating costs below the overall industry average.

Among the 13 regional carriers, six – PSA Airlines, Mesa Airlines, Republic Airlines, Horizon Air, Compass Airlines and GoJet Airlines– reported increased employment levels from October 2013. The others reported decreases (Table 15). 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 66.7 percent of the total number of FTEs employed by all scheduled passenger airlines in October, the six low-cost carriers employed 18.7 percent and the 13 regional carriers employed 12.9 percent (Table 4). The three airlines with the most FTEs in October – United, Delta and American – employed 55.8 percent of the month’s total passenger airline FTEs (Tables 3, 6).

Top Employers by Group: United employed the most FTEs (78,448) in October among the network airlines, Southwest employed the most FTEs (46,095) among low-cost airlines, and Envoy employed the most FTEs (11,035) 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. 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.

In March 2014 (for January 2014 data), the Department began displaying combined on-time performance data, mishandled baggage data, oversales data and complaint data in its Air Travel Consumer Report for Southwest and Air Tran, as well as for American and U.S. Airways, because both sets of airlines are sufficiently integrated that consumers perceive them as a single airline. The Air Travel Consumer Report also continues to display the separate performance data of each of these airlines and will continue to do so until a single economic certificate is issued.

Network Airlines
Recent Changes: The network airlines employed 668 more FTEs in October 2014 than in October 2013, a 0.3 percent increase. Four of the five network carriers reported FTE increases from October 2013 while United reported a decrease (Tables 8, 9).

Longer-term Changes: The network airlines employed 81 more FTEs in October 2014 than in October 2010, virtually unchanged.  American (-7.4 percent) reported a decrease in FTE employment from 2010 to 2014 while Alaska (12.6 percent), US Airways (7.3 percent) and Delta (3.7 percent) reported increases. United’s numbers for 2010 and 2014 are not directly comparable because of the intervening merger. United reported 1.4 percent fewer FTEs in October 2014 than United and Continental Airlines reported separately in October 2010 (Tables 8, 9).

Low-Cost Airlines
Recent Changes: The six low-cost airlines reported 3.8 percent more FTEs as a group from October 2013 to October 2014. All six low-cost airlines reported increases (Table 12).

Longer-term Changes: The low-cost carriers employed 7,811 more FTEs in October 2014 than in October 2010, up 12.1 percent. Spirit reported the largest percentage increase, 81.9 percent, while Frontier was the only low-cost carrier to report a decline, 23.5 percent. October 2014 numbers for Southwest are not directly comparable to 2010 because of the intervening merger. Southwest reported 7.8 percent more FTEs in October 2014 than Southwest and AirTran reported separately in October 2010 (Table 12).  

Regional Airlines
Recent Changes: Regional airlines reported reduced FTEs by 0.2 percent in October 2014 compared to October 2013. PSA and Mesa reported the largest percentage increases in FTEs from October 2013 to October 2014. Chautauqua Airlines and Air Wisconsin reported the largest percentage decreases (Table 15).

Longer-term Changes: The 13 regional carriers operating in October employed 5.0 percent fewer FTEs in 2014 than the 18 carriers reporting in October 2010.  Air Wisconsin and Horizon reported declines. GoJet reported the biggest four-year percentage gain. The ExpressJet/Atlantic Southeast combination reported 2.6 percent fewer FTEs in October 2014 than the two airlines reported separately in October 2010. The Endeavor/Mesaba combination reported 35.8 percent fewer FTE’s in October 2014 than the two airlines reported separately in October 2010 (Table 15).

Envoy operated as American Eagle prior to April 2014. Endeavor operated as Pinnacle prior to October 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 Dec. 10.  Additional airline employment data and previous press releases can be found on the BTS website. BTS has scheduled release of November passenger airline employment data for Jan. 22.

 

Table 1: Change from Previous Year 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**
Oct 2012-Oct 2013 -1.4 -0.1 -0.8 -0.8
Nov 2012-Nov 2013 -0.4 -0.1 -0.5 -0.1
Dec 2012-Dec 2013 0.4 -0.6 -0.5 0.3
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

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 2011 2012 2013 2014
January 0.4 2.1 -2.3 0.5
February 1.0 2.1 -2.4 0.4
March 1.5 2.1 -2.7 0.8
April 2.0 1.8 -2.4 1.0
May 2.1 1.6 -2.5 1.1
June 1.9 1.4 -2.4 0.9
July 2.3 0.8 -2.6 1.3
August 2.8 0.1 -2.2 1.0
September 2.9 -0.6 -1.6 1.1
October 2.9 -1.3 -0.8 0.9
November 2.6 -2.0 -0.1  
December 2.7 -2.6 0.3  

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 2010-2014

Month 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Percent Change
2010-2014 2013-2014
January 379,388 380,949 388,778 380,042 381,819 0.6 0.5
February 378,020 381,831 389,901 380,414 381,985 1.0 0.4
March 377,261 382,796 390,761 380,540 383,575 1.7 0.8
April 376,204 383,411 390,243 380,487 384,265 2.1 1.0
May 376,957 384,974 390,957 381,372 385,619 2.3 1.1
June 378,297 385,383 390,923 381,672 385,243 1.8 0.9
July 378,060 386,843 391,286 381,299 386,243 2.2 1.3
August 377,835 388,523 389,000 380,486 384,478 1.8 1.0
September 377,676 388,641 386,372 380,165 384,439 1.8 1.1
October 378,550 389,444 384,310 381,178 384,700 1.6 0.9
November 379,335 389,361 381,639 381,224      
December 379,651 389,728 379,576 380,809      
12-Month Average 378,103 385,990 387,812 380,807      
Jan-Oct Average 377,825 385,280 389,253 380,766 384,237 1.7 0.9

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.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 4: Airline Group Full-time Equivalent Employees*, October 2010-2014

  Network Low-Cost Regional All Passenger Airlines**
2010 256,328 64,299 52,402 378,550
2011 262,912 68,267 53,490 389,444
2012 259,245 69,551 50,305 384,310
2013 255,741 69,496 49,890 381,178
2014 256,409 72,110 49,789 384,700
Pct. Change 2010-2014 0.0% 12.1% -5.0% 1.6%
Percent of Total Passenger Airline Employees in 2014 66.7% 18.7% 12.9% 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.

 

Table 5: Year-to-Year Change in Airline Group Full-time Equivalent Employees*, October 2010-2014

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

  Network Low-Cost Regional All Passenger Airlines**
2010 -1.2 3.0 0.5 -0.4
2011 2.7 6.2 2.1 3.0
2012 -1.4 1.9 -6.0 -1.3
2013 -1.4 -0.1 -0.8 -0.8
2014 0.3 3.8 -0.2 0.9

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 6: Top 10 Airlines, October 2014

Ranked by Number of Full-Time Equivalent Employees*

Rank Airline Total FTE Employees Carrier Group** Top 10 Airlines October 2013
1 United 78,448 Network United
2 Delta 75,776 Network Delta
3 American 60,461 Network American
4 Southwest 46,095 Low-Cost Southwest
5 US Airways 31,634 Network US Airways
6 JetBlue 13,598 Low-Cost JetBlue
7 Envoy** 11,035 Regional American Eagle
8 Alaska 10,090 Network SkyWest
9 SkyWest 9,484 Regional Alaska
10 ExpressJet 8,945 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

  2011 2012 2013 2014
January 0.3 1.5 -3.1 0.4
February 1.1 1.2 -3.0 0.1
March 1.5 1.2 -3.3 0.6
April 1.8 1.3 -3.0 0.4
May 2.1 1.3 -3.0 0.5
June 1.6 1.4 -2.8 0.3
July 2.1 0.8 -2.8 0.4
August 2.7 -0.2 -2.5 0.1
September 2.7 -0.8 -2.1 0.4
October 2.6 -1.4 -1.4 0.3
November 2.6 -2.4 -0.4  
December 2.3 -3.3 0.4  

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 2010-2014

Month 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Percent Change
2010-2014 2013-2014
January 257,787 258,653 262,561 254,377 255,518 -0.9 0.4
February 256,756 259,545 262,788 254,955 255,158 -0.6 0.1
March 256,504 260,454 263,464 254,871 256,342 -0.1 0.6
April 255,697 260,347 263,666 255,673 256,732 0.4 0.4
May 255,518 260,832 264,183 256,274 257,578 0.8 0.5
June 256,576 260,689 264,301 256,791 257,491 0.4 0.3
July 256,373 261,818 263,793 256,474 257,541 0.5 0.4
August 256,122 263,063 262,428 255,800 256,095 0.0 0.1
September 255,752 262,641 260,651 255,194 256,133 0.1 0.4
October 256,328 262,912 259,245 255,741 256,409 0.0 0.3
November 256,432 263,129 256,836 255,914      
December 256,834 262,617 254,065 255,155      
12-Month Average 256,390 261,392 261,498 255,602      
Jan-Oct Average 256,341 261,095 262,708 255,615 256,500 0.1 0.3

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*, October 2010-2014

(FTEs for October of each year. Ranked by October 2014 FTEs)

Rank Airline 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Percent Change
2010-2014 2013-2014
1 UA/CO Combined 79,565 80,699 82,312 82,141 78,448 -1.4 -4.5
  United** 43,574 43,622 82,312 82,141 78,448 N/A -4.5
  Continental** 35,991 37,077 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
2 Delta 73,047 76,221 74,663 73,492 75,776 3.7 3.1
3 American 65,283 66,476 62,700 59,249 60,461 -7.4 2.0
4 US Airways 29,475 30,604 30,366 31,364 31,634 7.3 0.9
5 Alaska 8,958 8,913 9,205 9,495 10,090 12.6 6.3
  Total 256,328 262,912 259,245 255,741 256,409 0.0 0.3

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 2011 2012 2013 2014
January 2.2 5.7 1.1 0.3
February 2.3 6.4 0.2 0.7
March 2.3 7.1 -0.1 0.8
April 4.0 5.7 -0.3 1.5
May 4.1 5.3 -0.3 1.8
June 5.0 4.0 -0.6 2.2
July 5.3 3.5 -0.4 2.5
August 5.7 2.5 0.0 3.0
September 5.9 2.5 -0.2 2.9
October 6.2 1.9 -0.1 3.8
November 5.9 1.4 -0.1  
December 6.6 1.3 -0.6  

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 2010-2014

  2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Percent Change
2010-2014 2013-2014
January 63,600 64,978 68,684 69,464 69,693 9.6 0.3
February 63,845 65,321 69,473 69,630 70,135 9.9 0.7
March 63,783 65,273 69,886 69,853 70,384 10.3 0.8
April 63,571 66,114 69,861 69,677 70,751 11.3 1.5
May 63,933 66,553 70,053 69,818 71,095 11.2 1.8
June 64,046 67,261 69,969 69,574 71,074 11.0 2.2
July 63,982 67,373 69,756 69,510 71,272 11.4 2.5
August 64,025 67,682 69,380 69,286 71,387 11.5 3.0
September 64,114 67,875 69,573 69,426 71,428 11.4 2.9
October 64,299 68,269 69,552 69,496 72,110 12.1 3.8
November 64,657 68,450 69,441 69,402      
December 64,652 68,887 69,781 69,365      
12-Month Average 64,042 67,003 69,617 69,542      
Jan-Oct Average 63,920 66,670 69,619 69,573 70,933 11.0 2.0

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*, October 2010-2014

(FTEs for October of each year. Ranked by October 2014 FTEs)

Rank   2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Percent Change
2010-2014 2013-2014
1 WN/FL Combined 42,757 45,306 46,015 45,074 46,095 7.8 2.3
  Southwest** 34,990 37,349 46,015 45,074 46,095 N/A 2.3
  AirTran 7,767 7,957 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
2 JetBlue 11,245 12,108 12,506 12,993 13,598 20.9 4.7
3 Spirit 2,121 2,401 2,812 3,487 3,859 81.9 10.7
4 Frontier 4,839 4,835 4,007 3,437 3,703 -23.5 7.7
5 Virgin America 1,710 2,056 2,433 2,496 2,520 47.4 1.0
6 Allegiant 1,627 1,563 1,779 2,009 2,335 43.5 16.2
  Total 64,299 68,269 69,552 69,496 72,110 12.1 3.8

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 2011 2012 2013 2014
January 0.4 0.1 -4.1 -0.4
February 0.9 0.8 -5.0 0.5
March 1.8 0.2 -4.6 0.9
April 2.1 -1.5 -3.8 2.3
May 1.6 -2.2 -4.5 2.4
June 1.5 -2.5 -4.4 1.9
July 1.9 -3.3 -6.3 3.5
August 2.1 -2.3 -5.1 2.5
September 2.0 -4.3 -3.0 1.9
October 2.1 -6.0 -0.8 -0.2
November 0.6 -5.4 -0.5  
December 1.5 -5.4 -0.5  

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 14: Regional Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Month 2010-2014

  2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Percent Change
2010-2014 2013-2014
January 52,531 52,764 52,796 50,640 50,425 -4.0 -0.4
February 51,952 52,409 52,831 50,191 50,458 -2.9 0.5
March 51,522 52,468 52,581 50,181 50,623 -1.7 0.9
April 51,502 52,596 51,811 49,387 50,526 -1.9 2.3
May 52,074 52,930 51,746 49,424 50,633 -2.8 2.4
June 52,210 52,984 51,664 49,415 50,336 -3.6 1.9
July 52,229 53,197 52,715 49,387 51,107 -2.1 3.5
August 52,179 53,284 52,082 49,434 50,671 -2.9 2.5
September 52,322 53,361 51,082 49,546 50,512 -3.5 1.9
October 52,402 53,490 50,305 49,890 49,789 -5.0 -0.2
November 52,656 52,954 50,100 49,851      
December 52,549 53,328 50,426 50,191      
12-Month Average 52,177 52,980 51,678 49,795      
Jan-Oct Average 52,092 52,948 51,961 49,750 50,508 -3.0 1.5

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 15: Regional Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees*, October 2010-2014

(FTEs for October of each year. Ranked by October 2014 FTEs)

Rank   2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Percent Change
2010-2014 2013-2014
1 Envoy** 9,457 10,184 10,441 11,144 11,035 16.7 -1.0
2 SkyWest 9,023 9,414 9,227 9,538 9,484 5.1 -0.6
3 XE/EV Combined 9,185 9,296 8,935 9,086 8,945 -2.6 -1.6
  ExpressJet*** 5,476 5,427 8,935 9,086 8,945 N/A -1.6
  Atlantic Southeast*** 3,709 3,869 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
4 9E/XJ Combined 5,624 5,710 4,750 4,052 3,609 -35.8 -10.9
  Endeavor**** 3,421 3,758 4,750 4,052 3,609 N/A -10.9
  Mesaba**** 2,203 1,952 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
5 Republic 2,005 2,028 2,057 2,600 3,043 51.8 17.0
6 Horizon 2,938 2,838 2,732 2,719 2,834 -3.5 4.2
9 Air Wisconsin 2,531 2,555 2,544 2,455 1,966 -22.3 -19.9
7 Mesa 2,092 1,840 1,643 1,770 2,142 2.4 21.0
8 Shuttle America 1,242 1,581 1,890 2,013 1,976 59.1 -1.8
10 PSA 998 1,040 1,089 1,097 1,636 63.9 49.1
11 Compass 977 1,026 1,135 1,153 1,174 20.2 1.8
12 GoJet 552 611 1,036 1,096 1,114 101.8 1.6
13 Chautauqua# N/A N/A 1,322 1,167 831 N/A -28.8
14 Executive## 1,771 1,799 1,330 N/A N/A N/A N/A
15 Colgan### 1,391 1,580 64 N/A N/A N/A N/A
16 Comair#### 2,497 1,992 114 N/A N/A N/A N/A
17 Lynx##### 121 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
  Total 52,404 53,494 50,309 49,890 49,789 -5.0 -0.2

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 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.