USA Banner

Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

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

U.S. Cargo and Passenger Airlines Added 1,948 Jobs in May 2023; Employment Remains 8.2% Above Pre-Pandemic May 2019

Monday, July 10, 2023

BTS 31-23


May 2023 Airline Employment Infographic


U.S. Airline Total Number of Employees (both Full-Time and Part-Time)

U.S. airline industry (passenger and cargo airlines combined) employment increased to 798,850 workers in May 2023, 1,948 (0.24%) more workers than in April 2023 (796,902) and 60,790 (8.24%) more than in pre-pandemic May 2019 (738,060). 

U.S. scheduled-service passenger airlines employed 521,853 workers in May 2023 or 66% of the industry-wide total. Passenger airlines added 4,342 employees in May 2023 for a twenty-fifth consecutive month of job growth dating back to May 2021. United Air Lines led scheduled passenger carriers, adding 1,194 employees; American Airlines added 958, and Delta added 954.

U.S. cargo airlines employed 273,113 workers in May 2023, 34% of the industry total. Cargo carriers lost 1,346 employees in May. FedEx, the leading air cargo employer, decreased employment by 1,195 jobs.


​​Line chart showing total U.S. airline industry employment for May 2021 through May 2023


Scheduled passenger airlines add 1,907 full-time equivalents in May 2023 for 25th consecutive month of job growth

U.S. Airline Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs)

BTS calculates FTEs by dividing the number of part-time employees by 2 and adding that figure to the number of full-time employees. The May 2023 industry-wide numbers include 688,176 full-time and 110,674 part-time workers for a total of 743,513 FTEs, an increase from April of 1,907 FTEs (0.26%). May 2023’s total number of FTEs remains just 9.54% above pre-pandemic May 2019’s 678,748 FTEs.

The 26 U.S. scheduled passenger airlines reporting data for May 2023 employed 495,081 FTEs, 4,128 FTEs (0.84%) more than in April 2023. May 2023’s total number of scheduled passenger airline FTEs is 47,136 FTEs (10.52%) above pre-pandemic May 2019. Data by passenger carrier category can be found in the accompanying tables.

U.S. cargo airlines employed 244,601 FTEs in May 2023, down 1,221 FTEs (0.50%) from April 2023. U.S. cargo airlines have increased FTEs by 17,728 (7.81%) since pre-pandemic May 2019.

Line chart showing employees at U.S. scheduled passenger airlines for May 1990 through May 2023


Reporting Notes

Data are compiled from monthly reports filed with BTS by commercial air carriers as of July 5, 2023. Additional airline employment data and previous releases can be found on the BTS website. The month-to-month numbers are not seasonally adjusted.

Passenger, cargo, and charter 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. Regulations require U.S. airlines to report employment numbers for employees who worked or received pay for any part of the pay period(s) ending nearest the 15th day of the month.

See the tables that accompany this release on the BTS website for detailed data since 2015 (Tables 1-15) and industry summary monthly data since 1990. 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 May 2023.

Missing carriers: 2HQ (Elite Airways), 3FQ (Western Air Charter) and GCA (Global Crossing Airlines).

The next update for U.S. airline employment is scheduled for Friday, August 11, 2023.