Passenger Airline Employment

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April 2018 U.S. Passenger Airline Employment Data

Release Number: 
BTS 31-18

Date: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 

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U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 3.0 percent more workers in April 2018 than in April 2017:

  • April’s 436,610 full-time equivalents (FTE) was the highest monthly employment total since December 2004 (436,909 FTEs).
  • April was the 54th consecutive month that U.S. scheduled passenger airline FTEs exceeded the same month of the previous year.

April FTEs in thousands (000)
April FTEs in thousands (000)
1990452.7
1991442.3
1992448.5
1993439.5
1994435.9
1995425.0
1996436.5
1997448.8
1998466.0
1999490.4
2000515.6
2001538.8
2002462.5
2003449.3
2004438.6
2005423.5
2006403.9
2007409.7
2008415.4
2009392.1
2010376.7
2011384.0
2012387.6
2013380.5
2014384.3
2015393.4
2016407.8
2017423.7
2018436.6
Notes: 

FTE calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

All 21 scheduled service passenger airlines

  • 436,610 FTEs
  • Up 3.0 percent (12,863 FTEs) over April 2017 (423,747 FTEs)
  • Up 13.6 percent (52,345 FTEs) over April 2014 (384,265 FTEs)

Four network airlines

  • 284,742 FTEs, 65.2 percent of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
  • Up 3.1 percent (8,517 FTEs) over April 2017 (276,225 FTEs)
  • Up 10.9 percent (28,010 FTEs) over April 2014 (256,732 FTEs)

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. Note that beginning with January 2018 data, Virgin America’s numbers are included with Alaska Airlines in the network category.

Five low-cost airlines

  • 90,372 FTEs, 20.7 percent of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
  • Up 2.4 percent (2,083 FTEs) over April 2017 (88,289 FTEs)
  • Up 27.7 percent (19,621 FTEs) over April 2014 (70,751 FTEs)  

Low-cost airlines operate under a low-cost business model, with infrastructure and aircraft operating costs below the overall industry average.

10 regional airlines

  • 53,565 FTEs, 12.3 percent of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
  • Up 4.1 percent (2,127 FTEs) over April 2017 (51,438 FTEs)
  • Up 6.0 percent (3,039 FTEs) over April 2014 (50,526 FTEs)

Regional carriers typically provide service from small cities, using primarily regional jets to support the network carriers’ hub and spoke systems.

Top Employers by Group

  • Network: American    102,198 FTEs
  • Low-Cost: Southwest   57,483 FTEs
  • Regional: SkyWest       13,352 FTEs

Two other airlines

Other carriers generally operate within specific niche markets. They are: Hawaiian Airlines and Sun Country Airlines.

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.

Data are compiled from monthly reports filed with BTS by commercial air carriers as of June 6. Additional airline employment data and previous releases can be found on the BTS website. BTS has scheduled release of May passenger airline employment data for July 19.