Passenger Airline Employment

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December 2016 Passenger Airline Employment Data

Release Number: 
09-17

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U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 3.7 percent more workers in December 2016 than in December 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. December was the highest monthly FTE total (416,337) since March 2008 (416,457) and was the 38th 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).

Month-to-month, the number of FTEs rose 0.1 percent from November to December (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 2.4 percent more FTEs in December 2016 than in December 2015 (Tables 7, 8, 9). Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines increased FTEs from December 2015 (Table 9). Month-to-month, the number of network airline FTEs rose 0.1 percent from November to December (Table 1A).

The network airlines employed 7.3 percent more FTEs in December 2016 than in December 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 9.5 percent more FTEs in December 2016 than in December 2015 (Tables 10, 11, 12). Allegiant Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Virgin America and Southwest Airlines increased FTEs from December 2015 (Table 12). Month-to-month, the number of low-cost airline FTEs was virtually unchanged from November to December (Table 1A).  The six low-cost airlines employed 22.4 percent more FTEs in December 2016 than in December 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 0.2 percent more FTEs in December 2016 than in December 2015 (Tables 13, 14, 15). Nine regional airlines – Republic Airlines, Compass Airlines, Endeavor Air, PSA Airlines, Mesa Airlines, GoJet Airlines, SkyWest Airlines, Horizon Air and Envoy Air increased FTEs from December 2015. The others reported decreases (Table 15). Month-to-month, the number of regional airline FTEs was virtually unchanged from November to December (Table 1A). The 12 regional carriers reporting in December 2016 employed 0.4 percent more FTEs than the 14 carriers reporting in December 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 65.5 percent of the 416,337 FTEs employed by all scheduled passenger airlines in December, the six low-cost carriers employed 20.5 percent and the 12 regional carriers employed 12.2 percent (Table 4). In comparison, in December 2006, the network airlines employed 65.1 percent of the FTEs, the six low-cost carriers employed 17.7 percent and the regional carriers employed 14.4 percent (Table 5).

Top Employers by Group: American employed the most FTEs (99,508) in December among the network airlines, Southwest employed the most FTEs (53,536) among low-cost airlines, and Envoy employed the most FTEs (10,930) among regional airlines (Table 6). The three airlines with the most FTEs in December – American, Delta and United – employed 62.7 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 Feb. 7. Additional airline employment data and previous press releases can be found on the BTS website. BTS has scheduled release of January passenger airline employment data for March 20.  

Most recent 13 months - percent change from same month of the previous year
Network Airlines Low-Cost Airlines Regional Airlines All Passenger Airlines**
Dec 2014-Dec 20153.57.80.93.9
Jan 2015-Jan 20163.37.92.04.1
Feb 2015-Feb 20163.28.50.23.8
Mar 2015-Mar 20162.99.60.43.9
Notes: 

Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.        
See Table 2 for all passenger airlines, Table 7 for Network, Table 10 for Low-Cost and Table 13 for Regional.
* 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.    
 

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change in FTEs from the previous month
Network Airlines Low-Cost Airlines Regional Airlines All Passenger Airlines**
Dec 2015-Jan 20160.00.80.00.2
Jan 2016-Feb 20160.31.2-0.10.4
Feb 2016-Mar 20160.50.80.30.5
Mar 2016-Apr 20160.31.2-0.40.4
Apr 2016-May20160.51.10.40.6
May 2016-Jun20160.30.90.50.5
Jun 2016-July 20160.20.80.40.3
July 2016-Aug 20160.10.4-0.10.1
Aug 2016-Sep 20160.00.6-0.60.1
Sep 2016-Oct 20160.20.8-0.10.3
Oct 2016-Nov 2016-0.20.60.00.0
Nov 2016-Dec 20160.10.00.00.1
Notes: 

Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.
See Table 2 for all passenger airlines, Table 7 for Network, Table 10 for Low-Cost and Table 13 for Regional.
* 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. 

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change compared to same month the previous year
Month2013201420152016
January-1.60.51.24.1
February-1.70.41.83.8
March-1.90.81.93.9
April-1.81.02.43.6
May-1.81.12.63.7
June-1.70.93.03.9
July-1.81.32.74.3
August-1.61.03.34.3
September-0.91.13.34.3
October-0.30.94.04.0
November0.11.53.73.7
December0.31.43.93.7
Notes: 

Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.
* Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers.            
** Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics                 

Month20122013201420152016Percent Change
2012-20162015-2016
January386,166380,042381,819386,528402,2084.24.1
February387,091380,414381,985388,976403,9174.33.8
March387,968380,540383,575390,817406,1134.73.9
April387,501380,487384,265393,439407,7635.23.6
May388,341381,372385,619395,621410,3385.73.7
June388,165381,672385,243396,973412,3336.23.9
July388,475381,299386,243396,503413,7466.54.3
August386,749380,486384,478397,007414,2427.14.3
September383,604380,165384,501397,326414,5588.14.3
October382,162381,178384,700399,928415,9798.84.0
November380,949381,224386,912401,280416,0469.23.7
December379,575380,809386,222401,440416,3379.73.7
12-Month Average385,562380,807384,630395,487411,1326.64.0
Notes: 

* Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers.            
** Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.
 

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Network Low-Cost Regional All Passenger Airlines**
2012 254,065 69,781 50,425 379,575
2013 255,155 69,365 50,191 380,809
2014 257,251 72,399 50,083 386,222
2015 266,136 78,035 50,521 401,440
2016 272,614 85,434 50,616 416,337
Percent of Total Passenger Airline Employees in 2016 65.5%20.5%12.2%100.0%
Notes: 

* Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers.            
** Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent of Total Passenger FTEs December of each year
NetworkLow-CostRegional Other
200665.117.714.42.8
201167.417.713.71.3
201566.319.412.61.7
201665.520.512.21.8
Notes: 

* Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers.            
** Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Ranked by Number of Full-Time Equivalent Employees*
Rank AirlineTotal FTE EmployeesCarrier Group**Top 10 Airlines December 2015
1American 99,508 NetworkAmerican
2United 82,132 NetworkDelta
3Delta 79,447 NetworkUnited
4Southwest 53,536 Low-CostSouthwest
5JetBlue 16,531 Low-CostJetBlue
6Alaska 11,527 Network Alaska
7Envoy 10,930 RegionalSkyWest
8SkyWest 10,866 Regional Envoy
9ExpressJet 6,278 Regional ExpressJet
10Hawaiian 5,576 OtherSpirit
Notes: 

* 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.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change compared to same month of the previous year
2013201420152016
January-2.10.40.83.3
February-1.90.11.43.2
March-2.20.61.72.9
April-2.00.42.42.4
May-2.00.52.72.3
June-1.80.33.12.3
July-1.70.43.12.4
August-1.50.13.72.5
September-1.00.43.62.6
October-0.60.33.62.7
November-0.10.43.72.3
December0.40.83.52.4
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Month20122013201420152016Percent Change
2012-20162015-2016
January259,749254,377255,518257,627266,2452.53.3
February259,971254,955255,158258,796266,9872.73.2
March260,666254,871256,342260,794268,3753.02.9
April260,876255,674256,732262,905269,1693.22.4
May261,426256,274257,578264,438270,5593.52.3
June261,539256,791257,491265,486271,5033.82.3
July260,982256,474257,541265,551271,9634.22.4
August259,617255,800256,095265,567272,1124.82.5
September257,875255,194256,133265,315272,1365.52.6
October257,270255,741256,409265,704272,7876.02.7
November256,141255,914256,823266,251272,3476.32.3
December254,065255,155257,251266,136272,6147.32.4
12-Month Average259,181255,602256,589263,714270,5664.42.6
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics     

(FTEs for December of each year. Ranked by December 2016 FTEs)
Rank Airline 20122013201420152016 Percent Change
2012-2016 2015-2016
1 AA/US Combined 89,884 90,922 92,477 97,285 99,508 10.72.3
American** 59,574 59,458 60,714 97,285 99,508 N/A2.3
US Airways** 30,310 31,464 31,763 N/AN/AN/AN/A
2 United 82,383 81,368 78,835 78,858 82,132 -0.34.2
3 Delta 72,529 73,356 75,737 79,072 79,447 9.50.5
4 Alaska 9,269 9,509 10,202 10,921 11,527 24.45.5
Total 254,065 255,155 257,251 266,136 272,614 7.32.4
Notes: 

* 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.
 

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change compared to same month of the previous year
Month2013201420152016
January0.80.34.67.9
February0.20.74.68.5
March0.00.83.99.6
April-0.31.54.210.2
May-0.31.84.310.7
June-0.62.24.911.0
July-0.42.55.211.3
August-0.93.05.811.0
September-0.22.96.610.6
October-0.13.86.910.2
November-0.15.26.59.8
December-0.64.47.89.5
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

20122013201420152016Percent Change
2012-20162015-2016
January68,92669,46569,69372,90978,63814.17.9
February69,47669,63070,13573,35179,57814.58.5
March69,88769,85470,38473,16380,20214.89.6
April69,86269,67770,75173,69581,18016.210.2
May70,05569,81871,09574,16782,07017.210.7
June69,97069,57471,07474,59282,79618.311.0
July69,75669,51071,27274,99983,48119.711.3
August69,94069,28671,38775,54983,82319.811.0
September69,57569,42671,42876,17684,28421.110.6
October69,55269,49672,11077,06384,94522.110.2
November69,44269,40273,01477,78385,43923.09.8
December69,78169,36572,39978,03585,43422.49.5
12-Month Average69,68569,54271,22975,12482,65618.610.0
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

(FTEs for December of each year. Ranked by December 2016 FTEs)
Rank20122013201420152016Percent Change
2012-20162015-2016
1Southwest 45,861 44,831 46,278 49,583 53,536 16.78.0
2JetBlue 12,460 12,952 13,665 15,219 16,531 32.78.6
3Spirit 3,367 3,543 3,925 4,702 5,597 66.219.0
4Allegiant 1,816 2,065 2,405 2,843 3,412 87.920.0
5Frontier 3,898 3,494 3,625 2,953 3,392 -13.014.9
6Virgin America 2,379 2,480 2,501 2,735 2,966 24.78.4
Total 69,781 69,365 72,399 78,035 85,434 22.49.5
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change compared to same month of the previous year
Month2013201420152016
January-4.1-0.4-1.92.0
February-5.00.5-0.30.2
March-4.60.9-0.50.4
April-4.82.3-0.40.1
May-4.72.4-0.30.2
June-4.41.90.10.9
July-6.33.5-3.33.3
August-5.12.5-2.73.3
September-3.02.1-2.72.9
October-0.5-0.21.40.3
November-0.51.5-0.20.2
December-0.5-0.20.90.2
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

20122013201420152016Percent Change
2012-20162015-2016
January52,80050,64050,42549,47750,482-4.42.0
February52,83550,19150,45850,31850,416-4.60.2
March52,58450,18150,62350,36150,424-4.10.1
April51,85849,38750,52650,32650,374-2.90.1
May51,88449,42450,63350,46950,554-2.60.2
June51,66649,41550,33650,37350,823-1.60.9
July52,71549,38751,10749,40351,021-3.23.3
August52,08249,43450,67149,32050,957-2.23.3
September51,08549,54650,57449,23150,677-0.82.9
October50,24549,89049,78950,48650,6370.80.3
November50,10249,85150,60550,52250,6251.00.2
December50,42550,19150,08350,52150,6160.40.2
12-Month Average51,69049,79550,48650,06750,634-2.01.1
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

(FTEs for December of each year. Ranked by December 2016 FTEs)
Rank20122013201420152016Percent Change
2012-20162015-2016
1Envoy 10,754 11,030 10,841 10,700 10,930 1.62.1
2SkyWest 9,300 9,696 9,642 10,411 10,866 16.84.4
3ExpressJet 8,779 9,054 8,671 7,394 6,278 -28.5-15.1
4Republic 2,137 2,647 3,122 3,124 3,960 85.326.8
5Endeavor 4,732 3,920 3,447 3,292 3,768 -20.414.5
6Horizon 2,694 2,731 2,895 3,214 3,295 22.32.5
7Mesa 1,540 1,804 2,204 2,790 3,090 100.610.8
8PSA 1,088 1,120 1,799 2,454 2,772 154.813.0
9Compass 1,199 1,279 1,466 1,653 1,899 58.414.9
10Air Wisconsin 2,525 2,467 1,893 1,834 1,437 -43.1-21.6
11GoJet 1,221 1,332 1,342 1,237 1,297 6.24.9
12S5/RP Combined 3,192 3,111 2,761 2,418 1,024 -67.9-57.7
Shuttle America# 1,876 1,982 2,715 2,418 1,024 N/A-57.7
Chautauqua# 1,316 1,129 46 N/AN/AN/AN/A
13Executive## 1,264 N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Total 50,425 50,191 50,083 50,521 50,616 0.40.2
Notes: 

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.
#  Effective the end of December 2014, Shuttle America and Chautauqua Airlines combined operations and Chautauqua ceased operating.
## Effective the end of March 2013, Executive 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.    

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Updated: Thursday, February 23, 2017