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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 Lost 1159 Jobs in January 2024; Employment Remains 5.8% Above Pre-Pandemic January 2020

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

BTS 14-24


January 2024 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 decreased to 795,554 workers in January 2024, 1,159 (0.14%) fewer workers than in December 2023 (796,713) and 45,215 (5.85%) more than in pre-pandemic January 2020 (750,339). 

U.S. scheduled-service passenger airlines employed 536,416 workers in January 2024. Passenger airlines added 744 employees in January 2024. United Air Lines led scheduled passenger carriers, adding 478 employees; American Air Lines added 257, and SkyWest Air Lines added 205. Delta Airlines lost 503 employees.

U.S. cargo airlines employed 254,608 workers in January 2024. Cargo carriers lost 1,787 employees in January. While other carriers gained employees, FedEx, the leading air cargo employer, decreased employment by 2,117 jobs based on revised 2023 data.


Line chart showing total U.S. airline industry employment in January 2022 through January 2024

Scheduled passenger airlines add 744 full-time equivalents in January 2024

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 2024 industry-wide numbers include 682,844 full-time and 112,710 part-time workers for a total of 739,199 FTEs, a decrease from December 2023 of 880 FTEs. January 2024’s total number of FTEs remains just 6.67% above pre-pandemic January 2020’s 691,457 FTEs.

The 26 U.S. scheduled passenger airlines reporting data for January 2024 employed 509,745 FTEs, 697 FTEs (0.13%) more than in December 2023. January 2024’s total number of scheduled passenger airline FTEs is 47,144 FTEs (10.33%) above pre-pandemic January 2020. Data by passenger carrier category can be found in the accompanying tables.

U.S. cargo airlines employed 225,049 FTEs in January 2024, down 1,464 FTEs (0.64%) from December 2023. U.S. cargo airlines have deceased FTEs by 5,975 since pre-pandemic January 2020.


Line chart showing employees at U.S. scheduled passenger airlines in January 1990-2024


Reporting Notes

Data are compiled from monthly reports filed with BTS by commercial air carriers as of March 5, 2024. 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 January 2024.

Missing carriers: AMQ (Ameristar Air Cargo) and 3EQ (Silver Air) 

The next update for U.S. airline employment is scheduled for Monday, April 15, 2024.