Passenger Airline Employment

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March 2017 Passenger Airline Employment Data

Release Number: 
BTS 26-17
Date: 
Thursday, May 18, 2017

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U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 4.0 percent more workers in March 2017 than in March 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. March was the highest monthly full-time equivalent (FTE) total (422,278) since July 2005 (428,091) and was the 41st consecutive month that U.S. scheduled passenger airline FTEs exceeded the same month of the previous year (Tables 1, 2, 3).

FTEs in thousands
View Table Data
March FTEs in thousands (000)
1990450.0
1991438.5
1992444.8
1993440.1
1994433.7
1995428.6
1996436.2
1997447.5
1998463.9
1999488.9
2000501.9
2001536.3
2002461.4
2003458.6
2004436.7
2005427.1
2006404.4
2007407.5
2008416.9
2009392.1
2010377.8
2011383.3
2012388.1
2013380.5
2014383.6
2015390.8
2016406.0
2017422.3
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Month-to-month, the number of FTEs rose 0.6 percent from February to March (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 reported 2.7 percent more FTEs in March 2017 than in March 2016 (Tables 7, 8, 9).  American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines increased FTEs from March 2016. Month-to-month, the number of network airline FTEs rose 0.8 percent from February to March (Table 1A).

The network airlines employed 8.1 percent more FTEs in March 2017 than in March 2013 (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 9.1 percent more FTEs in March 2017 than in March 2016 (Tables 10, 11, 12). Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Spirit Airlines, Allegiant Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Virgin America increased FTEs from January 2016 (Table 12). Month-to-month, the number of low-cost airline FTEs rose 0.6 percent from February to March, rising for the 20th consecutive month (Table 1A). The six low-cost airlines employed 25.3 percent more FTEs in March 2017 than in March 2013 (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 11 regional carriers reported 2.0 percent more FTEs in March 2017 than in March 2016 (Tables 13, 14, 15). Nine regional airlines – Envoy Air, SkyWest Airlines, Republic Airlines, Endeavor Air, Horizon Air, Mesa Airlines, PSA Airlines, Compass Airlines and GoJet Airlines increased FTEs from March 2016. ExpressJet Airlines and Air Wisconsin reported a decrease (Table 15). Month-to-month, the number of regional airline FTEs dropped 0.3 percent from February to March (Table 1A). The 11 regional carriers reporting in March 2017 employed 2.5 percent more FTEs in March 2017 than the 15 carriers reporting in March 2013 (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 65.2 percent of the 422,278 FTEs employed by all scheduled passenger airlines in March, the six low-cost carriers employed 20.7 percent and the 11 regional carriers employed 12.2 percent (Table 4). In comparison, in March 2006, the network airlines employed 66.2 percent of the FTEs, the six low-cost carriers employed 17.2 percent and the regional carriers employed 14.5 percent (Table 5).

Top Employers by Group: American Airlines employed the most FTEs (100,295) in March among the network airlines, Southwest Airlines employed the most FTEs (54,652) among low-cost airlines, and Envoy Air employed the most FTEs (11,238) among regional airlines. The three airlines with the most FTEs in March – American, United and Delta– employed 62.4 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 May 9. Additional airline employment data and previous press releases can be found on the BTS website.  BTS has scheduled release of April 2017 passenger airline employment data for June 21. 

Most recent 13 months - percent change from same month of the previous year
View Table Data
Network AirlinesLow-cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesOther AirlinesAll Passenger Airlines **
Mar 2015 - Mar 20162.99.60.17.43.9
Apr 2015 - Apr 20162.410.20.18.13.6
May 2015 - May 20162.310.70.29.33.7
Jun 2015 - Jun 20162.311.00.910.63.9
Jul 2015 - Jul 20162.411.33.311.24.3
Aug 2015 - Aug 20162.511.03.311.94.3
Sep 2015 - Sep 20162.610.62.913.04.3
Oct 2015 - Oct 20162.710.30.312.74.0
Nov 2015 - Nov 20162.39.80.213.53.7
Dec 2015 - Dec 20162.49.50.213.73.7
Jan 2016 - Jan 20172.39.71.912.73.9
Feb 2016 - Feb 20172.49.42.411.83.9
Mar 2016 - Mar 20172.79.12.011.74.0
Notes: 

* 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

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.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change in FTEs from the previous month
View Table Data
Network AirlinesLow-cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesOther AirlinesAll Passenger Airlines **
Mar 2016 - Apr 20160.31.2-0.10.80.4
Apr 2016 - May 20160.51.10.41.60.6
May 2016 - Jun 20160.30.90.50.80.5
Jun 2016 - Jul 20160.20.80.41.00.3
Jul 2016 - Aug 20160.10.4-0.10.90.1
Aug 2016 - Sep 20160.00.5-0.51.50.1
Sep 2016 - Oct 20160.20.9-0.10.80.3
Oct 2016 - Nov 2016-0.20.50.01.50.0
Nov 2016 - Dec 20160.10.00.00.50.1
Dec 2016 - Jan 2017-0.11.01.60.50.4
Jan 2017 - Feb 20170.40.90.40.60.5
Feb 2017 - Mar 20170.80.6-0.30.60.6
Notes: 

* 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
View Table Data
Month2014201520162017
January0.51.24.13.9
February0.41.83.83.9
March0.81.93.94.0
April1.02.43.6
May1.12.63.7
June0.93.03.9
July1.32.74.3
August1.03.34.3
September1.13.34.3
October0.94.04.0
November1.53.73.7
December1.43.93.7
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

View Table Data
Month20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013 - 20172016 - 2017
January380,042381,819386,528402,208417,833 9.9 3.9
February380,414381,985388,976403,917419,762 10.3 3.9
March380,540383,575390,817405,983422,278 11.0 4.0
April380,487384,265393,439407,763
May381,372385,619395,621410,338
June381,672385,243396,973412,333
July381,299386,243396,503413,746
August380,486384,478397,007414,242
September380,165384,501397,326414,558
October381,178384,700399,928415,979
November381,224386,912401,280416,046
December380,809386,222401,440416,337
Jan - Mar Average380,332382,460388,774404,036419,95810.4 3.9
12-Month Average380,807384,630395,487411,121
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

View Table Data
Network AirlinesLow-Cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesOther AirlinesAll Passenger Airlines**
2013 254,871 69,854 50,181 5,634 380,540
2014 256,342 70,384 50,623 6,226 383,575
2015 260,794 73,163 50,361 6,499 390,817
2016 268,375 80,202 50,424 6,982 405,983
2017 275,503 87,532 51,442 7,801 422,278
Percent of Total Passenger Airline Employees in 201765.2%20.7%12.2%1.8%100%
Notes: 

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

** Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

March of each year
View Table Data
YearNetwork AirlinesLow-cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesOther Airlines
200666.217.214.52.1
201267.218.013.51.3
201666.119.812.41.7
201765.220.712.21.8
Notes: 

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

** Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Ranked by Number of Full-Time Equivalent Employees*
View Table Data
RankAirlineTotal FTE EmployeesCarrier Group**Top 10 Airlines March 2016
1American 100,295 NetworkAmerican
2United 82,524 NetworkUnited
3Delta 80,713 NetworkDelta
4Southwest 54,652 Low-costSouthwest
5JetBlue 17,007 Low-costJetBlue
6Alaska 11,971 NetworkAlaska
7Envoy Air 11,238 RegionalEnvoy Air
8SkyWest 11,058 RegionalSkyWest
9ExpressJet 5,983 RegionalExpressJet
10Spirit 5,782 Low-costHawaiian
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
View Table Data
2014201520162017
January0.40.83.32.3
February0.11.43.22.4
March0.61.72.92.7
April0.42.42.4
May0.52.72.3
June0.33.12.3
July0.43.12.4
August0.13.72.5
September0.43.62.6
October0.33.62.7
November0.43.72.3
December0.83.52.4
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

View Table Data
20132014201520162017Percent Change
Month_Name2013 - 20172016 - 2017
January 254,377 255,518 257,627 266,245 272,407 7.1 2.3
February 254,955 255,158 258,796 266,987 273,365 7.2 2.4
March 254,871 256,342 260,794 268,375 275,503 8.1 2.7
April 255,674 256,732 262,905 269,169
May 256,274 257,578 264,438 270,559
June 256,791 257,491 265,486 271,503
July 256,474 257,541 265,551 271,963
August 255,800 256,095 265,567 272,112
September 255,194 256,133 265,315 272,136
October 255,741 256,409 265,704 272,787
November 255,914 256,823 266,251 272,347
December 255,155 257,251 266,136 272,614
Jan - Mar Average 254,734 255,673 259,072 267,202 273,758 7.5 2.5
12-Month Average 255,602 256,589 263,714 270,566
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

(FTEs for March of each year. Ranked by March 2017 FTEs)
View Table Data
RankAirline20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013 - 20172016 - 2017
1American (+ US) 89,712 91,498 94,627 97,723 100,295 11.82.6
American 59,006 59,835 62,090 97,723 100,295 70.02.6
US Airways 30,706 31,663 32,537 N/AN/AN/AN/A
2United 82,385 80,694 78,683 80,077 82,524 N/A3.1
3Delta 73,395 74,521 77,005 79,568 80,713 10.01.4
4Alaska 9,379 9,629 10,479 11,007 11,971 27.68.8
Total 254,871 256,342 260,794 268,375 275,503 8.12.7
Notes: 

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

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change compared to same month of the previous year
View Table Data
2014201520162017
January0.34.67.99.7
February0.74.68.59.4
March0.83.99.69.1
April1.54.210.2
May1.84.310.7
June2.24.911.0
July2.55.211.3
August3.05.811.0
September2.96.610.6
October3.86.910.3
November5.26.59.8
December4.47.89.5
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

View Table Data
20132014201520162017Percent Change
Month_Name2013 - 20172016 - 2017
January 69,465 69,693 72,909 78,638 86,287 24.2 9.7
February 69,630 70,135 73,351 79,578 87,030 25.0 9.4
March 69,854 70,384 73,163 80,202 87,532 25.3 9.1
April 69,677 70,751 73,695 81,180
May 69,818 71,095 74,167 82,070
June 69,574 71,074 74,592 82,796
July 69,510 71,272 74,999 83,481
August 69,286 71,387 75,549 83,823
September 69,426 71,428 76,176 84,284
October 69,496 72,110 77,063 85,033
November 69,402 73,014 77,783 85,439
December 69,365 72,399 78,035 85,434
Jan - Mar Average 69,650 70,071 73,141 79,473 86,950 24.8 9.4
12-Month Average 69,542 71,229 75,124 82,663
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

(FTEs for March of each year. Ranked by March 2017 FTEs)
View Table Data
RankAirline20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013 - 20172016 - 2017
1Southwest 45,791 45,163 47,005 50,911 54,652 19.47.3
2JetBlue 12,775 13,513 13,980 15,457 17,007 33.110.0
3Spirit 3,215 3,569 4,159 4,943 5,782 79.817.0
4Allegiant 3,808 3,504 3,022 3,015 3,534 -7.217.2
5Frontier 1,879 2,130 2,443 3,024 3,531 87.916.8
6Virgin 2,386 2,505 2,554 2,852 3,026 26.86.1
Total 69,854 70,384 73,163 80,202 87,532 25.39.1
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
View Table Data
Month2014201520162017
January-0.4-1.92.01.9
February0.5-0.30.22.4
March0.9-0.50.12.0
April2.3-0.40.1
May2.4-0.30.2
June1.90.10.9
July3.5-3.33.3
August2.5-2.73.3
September2.1-2.72.9
October-0.21.40.3
November1.5-0.20.2
December-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

View Table Data
20132014201520162017Percent Change
Month_Name2013 - 20172016 - 2017
January 50,640 50,425 49,477 50,482 51,430 1.61.9
February 50,191 50,458 50,318 50,416 51,614 2.82.4
March 50,181 50,623 50,361 50,424 51,442 2.52.0
April 49,387 50,526 50,326 50,374
May 49,424 50,633 50,469 50,554
June 49,415 50,336 50,373 50,823
July 49,387 51,107 49,403 51,021
August 49,434 50,671 49,320 50,957
September 49,546 50,574 49,231 50,677
October 49,890 49,789 50,486 50,637
November 49,851 50,605 50,522 50,625
December 50,191 50,083 50,521 50,616
Jan - Mar Average 50,337 50,502 50,052 50,441 51,495 2.32.1
12-Month Average 49,795 50,486 50,067 50,634
Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

(FTEs for March of each year. Ranked by March 2017 FTEs)
View Table Data
RankAirline20132014201520162017Percent Change
201220122012201220122013 - 20172016 - 2017
1 Envoy 11,244 10,865 11,019 10,658 11,238 -0.15.4
2 SkyWest 9,414 9,912 9,845 10,632 11,058 17.54.0
3 ExpressJet 8,848 9,223 8,364 7,100 5,983 -32.4-15.7
4 YX/S5/RP Combined# 5,525 5,847 5,923 5,333 5,481 -0.82.8
Republic# 2,273 2,767 3,160 3,276 5,481 141.167.3
Shuttle America# 2,040 2,003 2,763 2,057 N/A N/A N/A
Chautauqua# 1,212 1,077 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
5 Endeavor 4,432 3,857 3,302 3,389 3,839 -13.413.3
6 Horizon 2,650 2,810 2,959 3,239 3,306 24.82.1
7 Mesa 1,545 1,912 2,380 2,793 3,052 97.59.3
8 PSA 1,067 1,311 2,068 2,550 2,870 169.012.5
9 Compass 1,090 1,200 1,448 1,715 1,904 74.711.0
10 Air Wisconsin 2,543 2,567 1,904 1,807 1,357 -46.6-24.9
11 GoJet 1,086 1,119 1,149 1,208 1,354 24.712.1
12 Executive Airlines## 737 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Total 50,181 50,623 50,361 50,424 51,442 2.52.0
Notes: 

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

# Effective the end of December 2016, Republic and Shuttle America combined operations and Shuttle America ceased operating. 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