Passenger Airline Employment

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February 2019 U.S. Passenger Airline Employment Data

Release Number: 
BTS 15-19
Date: Monday, April 15, 2019

The 21 U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 2.5% more workers in February 2019 than in February 2018:

  • February’s 443,058 full-time equivalents (FTE) was the highest February employment total since February 2003 (460,852 FTEs).  
  • February was the 64th consecutive month that U.S. scheduled passenger airline FTEs exceeded the same month of the previous year.
February FTEs in thousands (000)
February FTEs in thousands (000)
1990446.6
1991440.6
1992442.9
1993439.8
1994434.3
1995428.3
1996435.2
1997446.1
1998461.1
1999483.8
2000511.0
2001534.6
2002461.0
2003460.9
2004435.5
2005427.4
2006402.8
2007406.2
2008415.4
2009391.6
2010378.6
2011382.1
2012387.2
2013380.4
2014382.0
2015389.0
2016403.9
2017419.8
2018432.2
2019443.1
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

U.S. airline employment reports are filed monthly with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. See the tables that accompany this release on the BTS website for detailed data since 2015 (Tables 1-15) and industry summary data since 1990.

All 21 scheduled service passenger airlines

  • 443,058 FTEs
  • Up 2.5% (10,826 FTEs) over February 2018 (432,232 FTEs)
  • Up 13.9% (54,082 FTEs) over February 2015 (388,976 FTEs)

Four network airlines

  • 284,770 FTEs, 64.3% of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
  • Up 1.1% (3,029 FTEs) over February 2018 (281,741 FTEs)
  • Up 10.0% (25,974 FTEs) over February 2015 (258,796 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

  • 93,888 FTEs, 21.2% of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
  • Up 5.4% (4,792 FTEs) over February 2018 (89,096 FTEs)
  • Up 28.0% (20,537 FTEs) over February 2015 (73,351 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

  • 56,340 FTEs, 12.7% of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
  • Up 5.3% (2,850 FTEs) over February 2018 (53,490 FTEs)
  • Up 12.0% (6,022 FTEs) over February 2015 (50,318 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    100,584 FTEs
  • Low-Cost: Southwest   59,302 FTEs
  • Regional: SkyWest       15,038 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 April 8. Additional airline employment data and previous releases can be found on the BTS website. BTS has scheduled release of March passenger airline employment data for May 15.

Updated: Monday, April 15, 2019