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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

U.S. Cargo and Passenger Airlines Added 2,687 Jobs in February 2023; Employment Remains 8.2% Above Pre-Pandemic February 2019

Monday, April 10, 2023

BTS 16-23


February 2023 Airline Employment Infographic


U.S. Airline Employees Headcount (Full-time and Part-time Employees)

U.S. airline industry (passenger and cargo airlines combined) employment increased to 790,657 workers in February 2023, 2,687 (0.34%) more workers than in January 2023 (787,970) and 59,661 (8.16%) more than in pre-pandemic February 2019 (730,996). 

U.S. scheduled-service passenger airlines employed 508,450 workers in February 2023 or 65% of the industry-wide total. Passenger airlines added 4,696 employees in February 2023 for a twenty-second consecutive month of job growth dating back to May 2021. Delta led scheduled passenger carriers, adding 1,338 employees; Southwest added 1,134, and United added 1,082.

U.S. cargo airlines employed 277,999 workers in February 2023, 35% of the industry total. Cargo carriers lost 1,372 employees in February. FedEx, the leading air cargo employer, decreased employment by 1,582 jobs.


 Line chart displaying February 2023 Airline Industry Employment

Scheduled passenger airlines add 2,785 full-time equivalents in February 2023 for 22nd 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 February 2023 industry-wide numbers include 679,578 full-time and 111,079 part-time workers for a total of 735,118 FTEs, an increase from January of 2,785 FTEs (0.38%). February 2023’s total number of FTEs remains just 9.44% above pre-pandemic February 2019’s 671,701 FTEs.

The 26 U.S. scheduled passenger airlines reporting data for February 2023 employed 482,271 FTEs, 4,543 FTEs (0.95%) more than in January 2023. February 2023’s total number of scheduled passenger airline FTEs is 39,493 FTEs (8.92%) above pre-pandemic February 2019. Data by passenger carrier category can be found in the accompanying tables.

U.S. cargo airlines employed 248,681 FTEs in February 2023, down 1,187 FTEs (0.47%) from January 2023. U.S. cargo airlines have increased FTEs by 23,929 (10.65%) since pre-pandemic February 2019.


Line chart displaying February 2023 Airline FTE Employment


Reporting Notes

Data are compiled from monthly reports filed with BTS by commercial air carriers as of March 6, 2023. Additional and previous releases can be found on the BTS website.

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 February 2023.

Missing carriers: 3FQ (Western Air Charter/Jet Edge), 2HQ (Elite), and WL (World Atlantic dba Caribbean Sun).

ExpressJet (EV) is in Chapter 11 and discontinued operations on August 22nd, 2022.  EV filed a P-1(a) report on 9/28/22 for August activity.  There are no operations to report for September 2022 and beyond.

The next update for U.S. airline employment is scheduled for May 10, 2023.