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October 2016 Passenger Airline Employment Data

Press Release Number: 
BTS 64-16
Date: 
Friday, December 16, 2016
Media Contact: 
Dave Smallen, 202-366-5568

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U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 4.0 percent more workers in October 2016 than in October 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. October was the highest monthly FTE total (415,891) since January 2005 (417,789) and was the 36th consecutive month that U.S. scheduled passenger airline full-time equivalent (FTE) employment exceeded the same month of the previous year (Tables 1, 2, 3).

U.S. Scheduled Passenger Airline Employment Percent Change from Previous Year (Last 24 months)

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U.S. Scheduled Passenger Airline Employment Percent Change from Previous Year (Last 24 months)

Month-to-month, the number of FTEs rose 0.3 percent from September to October (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 four network airlines that collectively employ two-thirds of the scheduled passenger airline FTEs reported 2.7 percent more FTEs in October 2016 than in October 2015 (Tables 7, 8, 9). Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines increased FTEs from October 2015 (Table 9). Month-to-month, the number of network airline FTEs rose 0.2 percent from September to October (Table 1A).

The network airlines employed 6.0 percent more FTEs in October 2016 than in October 2012 (Tables 8, 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 reported 10.2 percent more FTEs in October 2016 than in October 2015 (Tables 10, 11, 12). Allegiant Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Virgin America, JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines increased FTEs from October 2015 (Table 12). Month-to-month, the number of low-cost airline FTEs rose 0.8 percent from September to October (Table 1A).  The six low-cost airlines employed 22.1 percent more FTEs in October 2016 than in October 2012 (Tables 11, 12). 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 0.3 percent more FTEs in October 2016 than in October 2015 (Tables 13, 14, 15). Nine regional airlines – Republic Airlines, Compass Airlines, PSA Airlines, Endeavor Air, Mesa Airlines, GoJet Airlines, SkyWest Airlines, Envoy Air and Horizon Air – increased FTEs from October 2015. The others reported decreases (Table 15). Month-to-month, the number of regional airline FTEs fell 0.1 percent from September to October (Table 1A). The 12 regional carriers reporting in October 2016 employed 0.8 percent more FTEs in October 2016 than the 15 carriers reporting in October 2012 (Tables 14, 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 four network airlines employed 65.6 percent of the 415,891 FTEs employed by all scheduled passenger airlines in October, the six low-cost carriers employed 20.4 percent and the 12 regional carriers employed 12.2 percent (Table 4). In comparison, in October 2006, the network airlines employed 65.2 percent of the FTEs, the six low-cost carriers employed 17.6 percent and the 12 regional carriers employed 13.9 percent (Table 5).

Top Employers by Group: American employed the most FTEs (99,191) in October among the network airlines, Southwest employed the most FTEs (53,480) among low-cost airlines, and Envoy employed the most FTEs (10,881) among regional airlines (Table 6). The three airlines with the most FTEs in October – American, Delta and United – employed 62.8 percent of the month’s total passenger airline FTEs (Tables 3, 6).

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. 7. 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. 19.  

 

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

Most recent 13 months - percent change from same month of the previous year

  Network Airlines Low-Cost Airlines Regional Airlines All Passenger Airlines**
Oct 2014-Oct 2015 3.6 6.9 1.4 4.0
Nov 2014-Nov 2015 3.7 6.5 -0.2 3.7
Dec 2014-Dec 2015 3.5 7.8 0.9 3.9
Jan 2015-Jan 2016 3.3 7.9 2.0 4.1
Feb 2015-Feb 2016 3.2 8.5 0.2 3.8
Mar 2015-Mar 2016 2.9 9.6 0.4 3.9
Apr 2015-Apr 2016 2.4 10.2 0.1 3.6
May 2015-May 2016 2.3 10.7 0.2 3.7
June 2015-Jun 2016 2.3 11.0 0.9 3.9
July 2015-July 2016 2.4 11.3 3.3 4.3
Aug 2015-Aug 2016 2.5 11.0 3.3 4.3
Sep 2015-Sep 2016 2.6 10.6 2.9 4.3
Oct 2015-Oct 2016 2.7 10.2 0.3 4.0

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. 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**
Oct 2015-Nov 2015 0.2 0.9 0.1 0.3
Nov 2015-Dec 2015 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.0
Dec 2015-Jan 2016 0.0 0.8 0.0 0.2
Jan 2016-Feb 2016 0.3 1.2 -0.1 0.4
Feb 2016-Mar 2016 0.5 0.8 0.3 0.5
Mar 2016-Apr 2016 0.3 1.2 -0.4 0.4
Apr 2016-May2016 0.5 1.1 0.4 0.6
May 2016-Jun2016 0.3 0.9 0.5 0.5
Jun 2016-July 2016 0.2 0.8 0.4 0.3
July 2016-Aug 2016 0.1 0.4 -0.1 0.1
Aug 2016-Sep 2016 0.0 0.6 -0.6 0.1
Sep 2016-Oct 2016 0.2 0.8 -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.

** 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 2013 2014 2015 2016
January -1.6 0.5 1.2 4.1
February -1.7 0.4 1.8 3.8
March -1.9 0.8 1.9 3.9
April -1.8 1.0 2.4 3.6
May -1.8 1.1 2.6 3.7
June -1.7 0.9 3.0 3.9
July -1.8 1.3 2.7 4.3
August -1.6 1.0 3.3 4.3
September -0.9 1.1 3.3 4.3
October -0.3 0.9 4.0 4.0
November 0.1 1.5 3.7  
December 0.3 1.4 3.9  

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 3: Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Month 2012-2016

Month 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Percent Change
2012-2016 2015-2016
January 386,166 380,042 381,819 386,528 402,208 4.2 4.1
February 387,091 380,414 381,985 388,976 403,917 4.3 3.8
March 387,968 380,540 383,575 390,817 406,113 4.7 3.9
April 387,501 380,487 384,265 393,439 407,763 5.2 3.6
May 388,341 381,372 385,619 395,621 410,338 5.7 3.7
June 388,165 381,672 385,243 396,973 412,333 6.2 3.9
July 388,475 381,299 386,243 396,503 413,746 6.5 4.3
August 386,749 380,486 384,478 397,007 414,242 7.1 4.3
September 383,604 380,165 384,501 397,326 414,558 8.1 4.3
October 382,162 381,178 384,700 399,928 415,891 8.8 4.0
November 380,949 381,224 386,912 401,280      
December 379,575 380,809 386,222 401,440      
12-Month Average 385,562 380,807 384,630 395,487      
Jan-Oct Average 386,622 380,766 384,243 394,312 410,111 6.1 4.0

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 2012-2016

  Network Low-Cost Regional All Passenger Airlines**
2012 257,270 69,552 50,245 382,162
2013 255,741 69,496 49,890 381,178
2014 256,409 72,110 49,789 384,700
2015 265,704 77,063 50,486 399,928
2016 272,787 84,945 50,637 415,891
Percent of Total Passenger Airline Employees in 2016 65.6% 20.4% 12.2% 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: Carrier Group Percent of Total Scheduled Passenger Airline FTEs 2006-2016

(October of each year)

  Network Low-Cost Regional Other
2006 65.2 17.6 13.9 3.3
2011 67.5 17.5 13.7 1.2
2015 66.4 19.3 12.6 1.7
2016 65.6 20.4 12.2 1.8

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 2016

Ranked by Number of Full-Time Equivalent Employees*

Rank Airline Total FTE Employees Carrier Group** Top 10 Airlines October 2015
1 American 99,191 Network American
2 United 81,903 Network Delta
3 Delta 80,244 Network United
4 Southwest 53,480 Low-Cost Southwest
5 JetBlue 16,495 Low-Cost JetBlue
6 Alaska 11,449 Network Alaska
7 Envoy 10,881 Regional SkyWest
8 SkyWest 10,586 Regional Envoy
9 ExpressJet 6,482 Regional ExpressJet
10 Hawaiian 5,501 Other Spirit

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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

** 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

  2013 2014 2015 2016
January -2.1 0.4 0.8 3.3
February -1.9 0.1 1.4 3.2
March -2.2 0.6 1.7 2.9
April -2.0 0.4 2.4 2.4
May -2.0 0.5 2.7 2.3
June -1.8 0.3 3.1 2.3
July -1.7 0.4 3.1 2.4
August -1.5 0.1 3.7 2.5
September -1.0 0.4 3.6 2.6
October -0.6 0.3 3.6 2.7
November -0.1 0.4 3.7  
December 0.4 0.8 3.5  

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 2012-2016

Month 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Percent Change
2012-2016 2015-2016
January 259,749 254,377 255,518 257,627 266,245 2.5 3.3
February 259,971 254,955 255,158 258,796 266,987 2.7 3.2
March 260,666 254,871 256,342 260,794 268,375 3.0 2.9
April 260,876 255,674 256,732 262,905 269,169 3.2 2.4
May 261,426 256,274 257,578 264,438 270,559 3.5 2.3
June 261,539 256,791 257,491 265,486 271,503 3.8 2.3
July 260,982 256,474 257,541 265,551 271,963 4.2 2.4
August 259,617 255,800 256,095 265,567 272,112 4.8 2.5
September 257,875 255,194 256,133 265,315 272,136 5.5 2.6
October 257,270 255,741 256,409 265,704 272,787 6.0 2.7
November 256,141 255,914 256,823 266,251      
December 254,065 255,155 257,251 266,136      
12-Month Average 259,181 255,602 256,589 263,714      
Jan-Oct Average 259,997 255,615 256,500 263,218 270,184 3.9 2.6

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 9: Network Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees*, October 2012-2016

(FTEs for October of each year. Ranked by October 2016 FTEs)

Rank Airline 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Percent Change
2012-2016 2015-2016
1 AA/US Combined 93,066 90,613 92,095 96,873 99,191 6.6 2.4
  American** 62,700 59,249 60,461 96,873 99,191 N/A 2.4
  US Airways** 30,366 31,364 31,634 N/A N/A N/A N/A
2 United 82,312 82,141 78,448 78,476 81,903 -0.5 4.4
3 Delta 72,687 73,492 75,776 79,406 80,244 10.4 1.1
4 Alaska 9,205 9,495 10,090 10,949 11,449 24.4 4.6
  Total 257,270 255,741 256,409 265,704 272,787 6.0 2.7

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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

** American Airlines and US Airways merged and began reporting combined numbers in July 2015.

 

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 2013 2014 2015 2016
January 0.8 0.3 4.6 7.9
February 0.2 0.7 4.6 8.5
March 0.0 0.8 3.9 9.6
April -0.3 1.5 4.2 10.2
May -0.3 1.8 4.3 10.7
June -0.6 2.2 4.9 11.0
July -0.4 2.5 5.2 11.3
August -0.9 3.0 5.8 11.0
September -0.2 2.9 6.6 10.6
October -0.1 3.8 6.9 10.2
November -0.1 5.2 6.5  
December -0.6 4.4 7.8  

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 2012-2016

  2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Percent Change
2012-2016 2015-2016
January 68,926 69,465 69,693 72,909 78,638 14.1 7.9
February 69,476 69,630 70,135 73,351 79,578 14.5 8.5
March 69,887 69,854 70,384 73,163 80,202 14.8 9.6
April 69,862 69,677 70,751 73,695 81,180 16.2 10.2
May 70,055 69,818 71,095 74,167 82,070 17.2 10.7
June 69,970 69,574 71,074 74,592 82,796 18.3 11.0
July 69,756 69,510 71,272 74,999 83,481 19.7 11.3
August 69,940 69,286 71,387 75,549 83,823 19.8 11.0
September 69,575 69,426 71,428 76,176 84,284 21.1 10.6
October 69,552 69,496 72,110 77,063 84,945 22.1 10.2
November 69,442 69,402 73,014 77,783      
December 69,781 69,365 72,399 78,035      
12-Month Average 69,685 69,542 71,229 75,124      
Jan-Oct Average 69,700 69,574 70,933 74,566 82,100 17.8 10.1

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 2012-2016

(FTEs for October of each year. Ranked by October 2016 FTEs)

Rank   2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Percent Change
2012-2016 2015-2016
1 Southwest 46,015 45,074 46,095 49,167 53,480 16.2 8.8
2 JetBlue 12,506 12,993 13,598 15,014 16,495 31.9 9.9
3 Spirit 2,812 3,487 3,859 4,530 5,408 92.3 19.4
4 Allegiant 1,779 2,009 2,335 2,737 3,347 88.1 22.3
5 Frontier 4,007 3,437 3,703 2,905 3,221 -19.6 10.9
6 Virgin America 2,433 2,496 2,520 2,710 2,994 23.1 10.5
  Total 69,552 69,496 72,110 77,063 84,945 22.1 10.2

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 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 2013 2014 2015 2016
January -4.1 -0.4 -1.9 2.0
February -5.0 0.5 -0.3 0.2
March -4.6 0.9 -0.5 0.4
April -4.8 2.3 -0.4 0.1
May -4.7 2.4 -0.3 0.2
June -4.4 1.9 0.1 0.9
July -6.3 3.5 -3.3 3.3
August -5.1 2.5 -2.7 3.3
September -3.0 2.1 -2.7 2.9
October -0.5 -0.2 1.4 0.3
November -0.5 1.5 -0.2  
December -0.5 -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.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 14: Regional Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Month 2012-2016

  2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Percent Change
2012-2016 2015-2016
January 52,800 50,640 50,425 49,477 50,482 -4.4 2.0
February 52,835 50,191 50,458 50,318 50,416 -4.6 0.2
March 52,584 50,181 50,623 50,361 50,424 -4.1 0.1
April 51,858 49,387 50,526 50,326 50,374 -2.9 0.1
May 51,884 49,424 50,633 50,469 50,554 -2.6 0.2
June 51,666 49,415 50,336 50,373 50,823 -1.6 0.9
July 52,715 49,387 51,107 49,403 51,021 -3.2 3.3
August 52,082 49,434 50,671 49,320 50,957 -2.2 3.3
September 51,085 49,546 50,574 49,231 50,677 -0.8 2.9
October 50,245 49,890 49,789 50,486 50,637 0.8 0.3
November 50,102 49,851 50,605 50,522      
December 50,425 50,191 50,083 50,521      
12-Month Average 51,690 49,795 50,486 50,067      
Jan-Oct Average 51,975 49,750 50,514 49,976 50,637 -2.6 1.3

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 15: Regional Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees*, October 2012-2016

(FTEs for October of each year. Ranked by October 2016 FTEs)

Rank   2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Percent Change
2012-2016 2015-2016
1 Envoy 10,441 11,144 11,035 10,638 10,881 4.2 2.3
2 SkyWest 9,227 9,538 9,484 10,186 10,586 14.7 3.9
3 ExpressJet 8,935 9,086 8,945 7,615 6,482 -27.5 -14.9
4 Republic 2,057 2,600 3,043 3,103 3,997 94.3 28.8
5 Endeavor 4,750 4,052 3,609 3,275 3,714 -21.8 13.4
6 Horizon 2,732 2,719 2,834 3,235 3,284 20.2 1.5
7 Mesa 1,643 1,770 2,142 2,740 3,100 88.7 13.1
8 PSA 1,089 1,097 1,636 2,356 2,709 148.8 15.0
9 Compass 1,135 1,153 1,174 1,682 1,938 70.7 15.2
10 Air Wisconsin 2,544 2,455 1,966 1,862 1,513 -40.5 -18.7
11 S5/RP Combined 3,212 3,180 2,807 2,539 1,094 -65.9 -56.9
  Shuttle America# 1,890 2,013 1,976 2,539 1,094 N/A -56.9
  Chautauqua# 1,322 1,167 831 N/A N/A N/A N/A
12 GoJet 1,036 1,096 1,114 1,255 1,339 29.2 6.7
13 Executive## 1,330 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
14 Comair### 114 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
  Total 50,245 49,890 49,789 50,486 50,637 0.8 0.3

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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

# Effective July 2012 Chautauqua Airlines began reporting employment data. Chautauqua did not qualify for monthly reporting prior to July 2012 because it did not operate aircraft with more than 60 seats. 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 October 2012, Comair 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.