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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

November 2021 Airline Industry Employment Drops from October in First Decrease Since April 2021, Remains 5.4% Below Pre-Pandemic November 2019

Monday, January 10, 2022

Passenger airlines add an estimated 1,853 jobs in November


U.S. airline industry employment decreased to 707,557 workers in November 2021, 16,670 (2.3%) fewer workers than in October 2021 (724,227) and 23,959 (5.4%) fewer than in pre-pandemic November 2019 (748,143). U.S. scheduled service passenger airlines employed 436,166 workers in November 2021 or 62% of the industry-wide total.



The November industry-wide numbers include 609,581 full-time and 97,976 part-time workers, a decrease from October of 11,012 full-time workers and 5,658 part-time workers. As of October, the U.S. airline industry is operating with 45,825 fewer employees (6.1%) than in mid-February 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Total employment (full-time + part-time) by U.S. airlines (passenger + cargo carriers):

November 2019: 748,143
February 2020 (COVID-19 onset): 753,382
October 2020 (pandemic low point): 669,172
October 2021 (pandemic high point): 724,227 (revised)
November 2021: 707,557

Major passenger airlines (carriers with more than $1 billion annual operating revenue) added 1,920 employees in November, led for the third consecutive month by Delta Air Lines (up 1,261). United Airlines (-790) dropped the most employees among major passenger carriers.

Major cargo airlines (carriers with more than $1 billion annual operating revenue) reporting this month and last month decreased employment by 16,777 workers in November. Of these carriers, Federal Express decreased employment by the greatest number, dropping 17,354 workers. Atlas Air added 529 employees, the most among major cargo carriers.

Regulations require airlines to report employment numbers to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics for employees who worked or received pay for any part of the pay period(s) ending nearest the 15th day of the month. Numbers include all paid employees but do not include employees not being paid.

Additional individual airline numbers are available on the BTS airline employment web page. The web page provides full-time and part-time employment numbers by carrier by month from 1990 through November 2021.

Reports are from all U.S. airlines including scheduled passenger, charter and cargo that meet the reporting standard. 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 next update for full-time and part-time employment is scheduled for February 3.