Passenger Airline Employment

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June 2018 U.S. Passenger Airline Employment Data

Release Number: 
BTS 40-18
Date: Monday, August 20, 2018

U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 2.7 percent more workers in June 2018 than in June 2017:

  • June’s 439,422 full-time equivalents (FTE) was the highest monthly employment total since November 2004 (439,776 FTEs).
  • June was the 56th consecutive month that U.S. scheduled passenger airline FTEs exceeded the same month of the previous year.
June FTEs in thousands (000)
June FTEs in thousands (000)
1990460.9
1991447.9
1992451.3
1993445.8
1994433.4
1995429.0
1996441.3
1997452.6
1998473.1
1999498.1
2000521.4
2001545.9
2002472.4
2003440.0
2004441.0
2005423.3
2006403.3
2007413.7
2008414.2
2009387.7
2010378.9
2011387.1
2012388.3
2013381.7
2014385.2
2015397.0
2016412.3
2017427.8
2018439.4
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

All 21 scheduled service passenger airlines

  • 439,422 FTEs
  • Up 2.7 percent (11,604 FTEs) over June 2017 (427,818 FTEs)
  • Up 14.1 percent (54,179 FTEs) over June 2014 (385,243 FTEs)

Four network airlines

  • 286,670 FTEs, 65.2 percent of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
  • Up 3.0 percent (8,280 FTEs) over June 2017 (278,390 FTEs)
  • Up 11.3 percent (29,179 FTEs) over June 2014 (257,491 FTEs)

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics defines network airlines as operating 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

  • 91,038 FTEs, 20.7 percent of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
  • Up 1.8 percent (1,646 FTEs) over June 2017 (89,392 FTEs)
  • Up 28.1 percent (19,964 FTEs) over June 2014 (71,074 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

  • 53,858 FTEs, 12.3 percent of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
  • Up 3.3 percent (1,714 FTEs) over June 2017 (52,144 FTEs)
  • Up 7.0 percent (3,522 FTEs) over June 2014 (50,336 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    102,857 FTEs
  • Low-Cost: Southwest   57,674 FTEs
  • Regional: SkyWest       13,508 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 Aug. 8. Additional airline employment data and previous releases can be found on the BTS website. BTS has scheduled release of July passenger airline employment data for Sept. 25.                  

Updated: Monday, August 20, 2018