Passenger Airline Employment

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September 2017 Passenger Airline Employment Data

Release Number: 
BTS 56-17
Date: 
Tuesday, November 21, 2017

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U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 3.3 percent more workers in September 2017 than in September 2016, reaching 428,343 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. September was the 47th consecutive month that U.S. scheduled passenger airline FTEs exceeded the same month of the previous year (Tables 1, 2, 3).

September FTEs in thousands (000)
September FTEs in thousands (000)
1990466.0
1991445.8
1992449.5
1993442.3
1994426.8
1995430.5
1996440.6
1997454.8
1998476.0
1999501.1
2000524.9
2001517.7
2002468.7
2003430.4
2004440.1
2005413.7
2006403.5
2007416.1
2008397.3
2009379.9
2010378.3
2011385.8
2012383.7
2013380.2
2014384.5
2015397.3
2016414.6
2017428.3
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Month-to-month, the number of FTEs was unchanged from August to September (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 64.9 percent of the scheduled passenger airline FTEs reported 2.1 percent more FTEs in September 2017 than in September 2016 (Tables 7, 8, 9). Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines increased FTEs from September 2016. Month-to-month, the number of network airline FTEs fell 0.1 percent from August to September (Table 1A).

The network airlines employed 8.9 percent more FTEs in September 2017 than in September 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 6.8 percent more FTEs in September 2017 than in September 2016 (Tables 10, 11, 12).   Spirit Airlines, Allegiant Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Virgin America and Southwest Airlines increased FTEs from September 2016 (Table 12). Month-to-month, the number of low-cost airline FTEs rose 0.4 percent from August to September (Table 1A). The six low-cost airlines employed 29.5 percent more FTEs in September 2017 than in September 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 4.3 percent more FTEs in September 2017 than in September 2016 (Tables 13, 14, 15). Seven regional airlines –PSA Airlines, SkyWest Airlines, Envoy Air, Republic Airlines, Horizon Air, Endeavor Air, and GoJet increased FTEs from September 2016. ExpressJet Airlines, Compass Airlines, Air Wisconsin and Mesa Airlines, reported a decrease (Table 15). Month-to-month, the number of regional airline FTEs rose 0.5 percent from August to September (Table 1A). The 11 regional carriers reporting in September 2017 employed 6.7 percent more FTEs in September 2017 than the 15 carriers reporting in September 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 64.9 percent of the 428,343 FTEs employed by all scheduled passenger airlines in September, the six low-cost carriers employed 21.0 percent and the 11 regional carriers employed 12.3 percent (Table 4). In comparison, in September 2006, network airlines employed 65.4 percent of the FTEs, six low-cost carriers employed 17.6 percent and regional carriers employed 14.8 percent (Table 5).

Top Employers by Group: American employed the most FTEs (100,732) in September among the network airlines, Southwest employed the most FTEs (55,671) among low-cost airlines, and Envoy employed the most FTEs (12,025) among regional airlines. The three airlines with the most FTEs in September – American, United and Delta – employed 61.9 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 Nov. 8.  Additional airline employment data and previous press releases can be found on the BTS website.  BTS has scheduled release of October 2017 passenger airline employment data for Dec. 15.

Most recent 13 months - percent change from same month of the previous year
Network AirlinesLow-Cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesOther AirlinesAll Passenger Airlines **
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
Apr 2016 - Apr 20172.68.82.110.73.9
May 2016 - May 20172.48.32.59.83.7
Jun 2016 - Jun 20172.58.02.69.43.8
Jul 2016 - Jul 20172.37.32.78.53.5
Aug 2016 - Aug 20172.27.03.38.43.4
Sep 2016 - Sep 20172.16.84.31.63.3
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.
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
NetworkLow-costRegionalOtherAll
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
Mar 2017 - Apr 20170.30.90.0-0.10.3
Apr 2017 - May 20170.30.60.70.80.5
May 2017 - Jun 20170.50.60.70.40.5
Jun 2017 - Jul 20170.00.20.50.10.1
Jul 2017 - Aug 2017-0.10.20.40.80.1
Aug 2017 - Sep 2017-0.10.40.5-4.90.0
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.
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 compared to same month the previous year
Month2014201520162017
January0.51.24.13.9
February0.41.83.83.9
March0.81.93.94.0
April1.02.43.63.9
May1.12.63.73.7
June0.93.03.93.8
July1.32.74.33.5
August1.03.34.33.4
September1.13.34.33.3
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.
Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent Change
201320142015201620172013 - 20172016 - 2017
January 380,042 381,819 386,528 402,208 417,833 9.9 3.9
February 380,414 381,985 388,976 403,917 419,762 10.3 3.9
March 380,540 383,575 390,817 405,983 422,278 11.0 4.0
April 380,487 384,265 393,439 407,763 423,747 11.4 3.9
May 381,372 385,619 395,621 410,338 425,656 11.6 3.7
June 381,672 385,243 396,973 412,333 427,818 12.1 3.8
July 381,299 386,243 396,503 413,746 428,209 12.3 3.5
August 380,486 384,478 397,007 414,242 428,455 12.6 3.4
September 380,165 384,501 397,326 414,558 428,343 12.7 3.3
October 381,178 384,700 399,928 415,979
November 381,224 386,912 401,280 416,046
December 380,809 386,222 401,440 416,337
Jan - Sep Average 380,720 384,192 393,688 409,454 424,678 11.5 3.7
12-Month Average 380,807 384,630 395,487 411,121
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.
Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Network AirlinesLow-Cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesOther AirlinesAll Passenger Airlines**
2013 255,194 69,426 49,546 5,999 380,165
2014 256,133 71,428 50,574 6,366 384,501
2015 265,315 76,176 49,231 6,604 397,326
2016 272,136 84,284 50,677 7,461 414,558
2017 277,857 90,038 52,871 7,577 428,343
Percent of Total Passenger Airline Employees in 2017 64.9 21.0 12.3 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

(September of each year)
YearNetwork AirlinesLow-cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesOther Airlines
200665.417.614.82.2
201267.218.113.31.4
201665.620.312.21.8
201764.921.012.31.8
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*
RankAirlineTotal FTE EmployeesCarrier Group**Top 10 Airlines September 2016
1American 100,732 NetworkAmerican
2United 82,604 NetworkUnited
3Delta 81,697 NetworkDelta
4Southwest 55,671 Low-costSouthwest
5JetBlue 17,615 Low-costJetBlue
6Alaska 12,824 NetworkAlaska
7Envoy 12,025 RegionalEnvoy
8SkyWest 11,970 RegionalSkyWest
9Spirit 6,323 Low-costExpressJet
10Hawaiian 5,827 OtherHawaiian
Notes: 
* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time 
** 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
2014201520162017
January0.40.83.32.3
February0.11.43.22.4
March0.61.72.92.7
April0.42.42.42.6
May0.52.72.32.4
June0.33.12.32.5
July0.43.12.42.3
August0.13.72.52.2
September0.43.62.62.1
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

20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013 - 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 255,674 256,732 262,905 269,169 276,225 8.0 2.6
May 256,274 257,578 264,438 270,559 277,135 8.1 2.4
June 256,791 257,491 265,486 271,503 278,390 8.4 2.5
July 256,474 257,541 265,551 271,963 278,325 8.5 2.3
August 255,800 256,095 265,567 272,112 278,158 8.7 2.2
September 255,194 256,133 265,315 272,136 277,857 8.9 2.1
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 - Sep Average 255,601 256,510 262,942 269,894 276,374 8.1 2.4
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 

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

(FTEs for September of each year. Ranked by September 2017 FTEs)
RankAirline20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013 - 20172016 - 2017
1American (+ US) 90,187 91,497 96,700 99,037 100,732 11.71.7
American 58,876 59,829 96,700 99,037 100,732 71.11.7
US Airways 31,311 31,668 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
2United 82,082 79,064 78,400 81,776 82,604 0.61.0
3Delta 73,445 75,616 79,275 79,996 81,697 11.22.1
4Alaska 9,480 9,956 10,940 11,327 12,824 35.313.2
Total 255,194 256,133 265,315 272,136 277,857 8.92.1
Notes: 
* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time 
** 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
2014201520162017
January0.34.67.99.7
February0.74.68.59.4
March0.83.99.69.1
April1.54.210.28.8
May1.84.310.78.3
June2.24.911.08.0
July2.55.211.37.3
August3.05.811.06.8
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

20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013 - 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 88,289 26.7 8.8
May 69,818 71,095 74,167 82,070 88,859 27.3 8.3
June 69,574 71,074 74,592 82,796 89,392 28.5 8.0
July 69,510 71,272 74,999 83,481 89,576 28.9 7.3
August 69,286 71,387 75,549 83,823 89,718 29.5 7.0
September 69,426 71,428 76,176 84,284 90,038 29.7 6.8
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 - Sep Average 69,582 70,802 74,289 81,784 88,525 27.2 8.3
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 

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

(FTEs for September of each year. Ranked by September 2017 FTEs)
RankAirline20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013 - 20172016 - 2017
1Southwest 45,148 45,750 48,642 53,072 55,671 23.34.9
2JetBlue 12,955 13,381 14,877 16,324 17,615 36.07.9
3Spirit 3,389 3,803 4,450 5,397 6,323 86.617.2
4Allegiant 1,998 2,211 2,650 3,283 3,700 85.212.7
5Frontier 3,476 3,758 2,869 3,262 3,583 3.19.8
6Virgin America 2,460 2,525 2,688 2,946 3,146 27.96.8
Total 69,426 71,428 76,176 84,284 90,038 29.76.8
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
Month2014201520162017
January-0.4-1.92.01.9
February0.5-0.30.2 2.4
March0.9-0.50.1 2.0
April2.3-0.40.1 2.1
May2.4-0.30.2 2.5
June1.90.10.9 2.6
July3.5-3.33.3 2.7
August2.5-2.73.3 3.3
September2.1-2.72.9 4.3
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

20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013 - 20172016 - 2017
January 50,640 50,425 49,477 50,482 51,430 1.6 1.9
February 50,191 50,458 50,318 50,416 51,614 2.8 2.4
March 50,181 50,623 50,361 50,424 51,442 2.5 2.0
April 49,387 50,526 50,326 50,374 51,438 4.2 2.1
May 49,424 50,633 50,469 50,554 51,803 4.8 2.5
June 49,415 50,336 50,373 50,823 52,144 5.5 2.6
July 49,387 51,107 49,403 51,021 52,408 6.1 2.7
August 49,434 50,671 49,320 50,957 52,615 6.4 3.3
September 49,546 50,574 49,231 50,677 52,871 6.7 4.3
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 - Sep Average 49,734 50,595 49,920 50,636 51,974 4.52.6
12-Month Average 49,795 50,486 50,067 50,634
Notes: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Source: 

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

(FTEs for September of each year. Ranked by September 2017 FTEs)
RankAirline20132014201520162017Percent Change
201220122012201220122013 - 20172016 - 2017
1Envoy 11,160 10,972 9,714 10,889 12,025 7.810.4
2SkyWest 9,452 9,830 10,049 10,581 11,970 26.613.1
3YX/S5/RP Combined# 5,725 5,835 5,708 5,122 5,643 -1.410.2
Republic 2,546 3,009 3,066 3,717 5,643 121.651.8
Shuttle America 2,023 2,005 2,642 1,405 N/A N/A N/A
Chautauqua 1,156 821 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
4ExpressJet 9,037 9,092 7,655 6,567 5,005 N/A N/A
5Endeavor 4,036 3,666 3,251 3,695 3,992 -1.18.0
6Horizon 2,689 2,829 3,179 3,273 3,574 32.99.2
7PSA 1,075 1,574 2,295 2,660 3,141 192.218.1
8Mesa 1,712 2,117 2,697 3,114 3,105 81.4-0.3
9Compass 1,093 1,161 1,607 1,909 1,717 57.1-10.1
10GoJet 1,105 1,097 1,194 1,339 1,350 22.20.8
11Air Wisconsin 2,462 2,401 1,882 1,528 1,349 -45.2-11.7
Total 49,546 50,574 49,231 50,677 52,871 6.74.3
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.
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