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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 Gained 2,939 Jobs in September 2023; Employment Remains 8.7% Above Pre-Pandemic September 2019

Thursday, November 9, 2023

BTS 52-23


September 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 807,865 workers in September 2023, 2,939 (0.37%) more workers than in August 2023 (804,926) and 64,765 (8.72%) more than in pre-pandemic September 2019 (743,100).

U.S. scheduled-service passenger airlines employed 533,238 workers in September 2023 or 66% of the industry-wide total. Passenger airlines added 2,938 employees in September 2023 for a twenty-nineth consecutive month of job growth dating back to May 2021. Southwest led scheduled passenger carriers, adding 882 employees; United Air Lines added 736, and Delta Airlines added 708.

U.S. cargo airlines employed 269,870 workers in September 2023, 34% of the industry total. Cargo carriers lost 18 employees in September. FedEx, the leading air cargo employer, decreased employment by 149 jobs.


Line chart showing total U.S. airline industry employment in September 2021 - September 2023


Scheduled passenger airlines add 2,750 full-time equivalents in September 2023 for 29th 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 September 2023 industry-wide numbers include 695,156 full-time and 112,709 part-time workers for a total of 751,511FTEs, an increase from August of 2,513 FTEs (0.34%). September 2023’s total number of FTEs remains just 9.80% above pre-pandemic September 2019’s 684,443 FTEs.

The 26 U.S. scheduled passenger airlines reporting data for September 2023 employed 506,337 FTEs, 2,750 FTEs (0.55%) more than in August 2023. September 2023’s total number of scheduled passenger airline FTEs is 55,883 FTEs (12.41%) above pre-pandemic September 2019. Data by passenger carrier category can be found in the accompanying tables.

U.S. cargo airlines employed 240,532 FTEs in September 2023, down 207 FTEs (0.09%) from August 2023. U.S. cargo airlines have increased FTEs by 10,728 (4.67%) since pre-pandemic September 2019.


Line chart showing employees at U.S. scheduled passenger airlines in month of September 1990-2023


Reporting Notes

Data are compiled from monthly reports filed with BTS by commercial air carriers as of November 6, 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 (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 September 2023.

The next update for U.S. airline employment is scheduled for Monday, December 11, 2023.