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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 3,093 Jobs in January 2023; Employment Remains 7.8% Above Pre-Pandemic January 2019

Friday, March 10, 2023

BTS 13-23


January 2023 Passenger 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 787,328 workers in January 2023, 3,093 (0.39%) more workers than in December 2022 (784,235) and 56,944 (7.80%) more than in pre-pandemic January 2019 (730,384). 

U.S. scheduled-service passenger airlines employed 503,754 workers in January 2023 or 64% of the industry-wide total. Passenger airlines added 4,583 employees in January 2023 for a twenty-first consecutive month of job growth dating back to May 2021. Delta led scheduled passenger carriers, adding 1,499 employees; United added 1,256; and Southwest added 1,058.

  U.S. cargo airlines employed 279,337 workers in January 2023, 36% of the industry total. Cargo carriers lost 964 employees in January. FedEx, the leading air cargo employer, decreased employment by 910 jobs.

Line chart showing total U.S. Airline Industry Employment for January 2021 through January 2023


Scheduled passenger airlines add 4,380 full-time equivalents in January 2023 for 21st 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 January 2023 industry-wide numbers include 676,184 full-time and 111,144 part-time workers for a total of 731,756  FTEs, an increase from December of 3,003 FTEs (0.41%). January 2023’s total number of FTEs remains just 9.05% above pre-pandemic January 2019’s 671,039 FTEs.

The 26 U.S. scheduled passenger airlines reporting data for January 2023 employed 477,728 FTEs, 4,380 FTEs (0.93%) more than in December 2022. January 2023’s total number of scheduled passenger airline FTEs is 36,208 FTEs (8.20%) above pre-pandemic January 2019. Data by passenger carrier category can be found in the accompanying tables.

U.S. cargo airlines employed 249,834 FTEs in January 2023, down 921 FTEs (0.37%) from December 2022. U.S. cargo airlines have increased FTEs by 24,423 (10.83%) since pre-pandemic January 2019.  


Line chart showing employees at U.S. scheduled airlines in month January, 1990-2023


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 January 2023.

Missing carriers: 1TQ (Rhoades Aviation), 3FQ (Western Air Charter/Jet Edge), 2HQ (Elite), AMQ (Ameristar), 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 April 10, 2023.