Passenger Airline Employment

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December 2017 Passenger Airline Employment Data

Release Number: 
BTS 10-18

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U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 3.4 percent more workers in December 2017 than in December 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. December was the highest monthly full-time equivalent (FTE) employment total (430,607 FTEs) since January 2005 (430,780 FTEs) and was the 50th consecutive month that U.S. scheduled passenger airlines' FTEs exceeded the same month of the previous year (Tables 1, 2, 3).

December FTEs in thousands (000)
December FTEs in thousands (000)
1990464.1
1991440.4
1992441.0
1993438.0
1994423.3
1995433.8
1996446.4
1997455.5
1998481.1
1999508.1
2000531.9
2001467.0
2002462.6
2003431.1
2004436.9
2005408.9
2006404.2
2007417.3
2008391.8
2009379.7
2010380.4
2011386.9
2012379.7
2013380.8
2014386.2
2015401.4
2016416.3
2017428.8
Notes: 

FTE calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Month-to-month, the number of FTEs rose 0.2 percent from November to December (Table 1A). Scheduled passenger airline categories include network, low-cost, regional and other airlines. Historical employment data can be found on the BTS web site.

The four network airlines that collectively employ 64.6 percent of the scheduled passenger airline FTEs reported 2.0 percent more FTEs in December 2017 than in December 2016, an increase of 5,562 FTEs (Tables 7, 8, 9). Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines increased FTEs from December 2016. Month-to-month, the number of network airline FTEs rose 0.1 percent from November to December (Table 1A).

The network airlines employed 9.0 percent more FTEs in December 2017 than in December 2013, an increase of 23,021 FTEs (Tables 8, 9). Network airlines operate a significant portion of their flights using at least one hub where connections are made for flights to down-line destinations or spoke cities.

The six low-cost carriers reported 6.5 percent more FTEs in December 2017 than in December 2016, an increase of 5,570 FTEs (Tables 10, 11, 12). Spirit Airlines, Allegiant Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Virgin America and Southwest Airlines increased FTEs from December 2016 (Tables 12). Month-to-month, the number of low-cost airline FTEs was virtually unchanged from November to December (Table 1A). The six low-cost airlines employed 31.2 percent more FTEs in December 2017 than in December 2013, an increase of 21,639 FTEs (Tables 11, 12). Low-cost airlines operate under a low-cost business model, with infrastructure and aircraft operating costs below the overall industry average.

The 11 regional carriers reported 6.0 percent more FTEs in December 2017 than in December 2016, an increase of 3,023 FTEs (Tables 13, 14, 15). Eight regional airlines – PSA Airlines, SkyWest Airlines, Envoy Air, Republic Airlines, Endeavor Air, Horizon Air, Mesa Airlines and GoJet Airlines increased FTEs from December 2016. ExpressJet Airlines, Compass Airlines and Air Wisconsin reported a decrease (Table 15). Month-to-month, the number of regional airline FTEs rose 0.5 percent from November to December (Table 1A). The 11 regional carriers reporting in December 2017 employed 6.9 percent more FTEs in December 2017 than the 15 carriers reporting in December 2013, an increase of 3,448 FTEs (Tables 14, 15). Regional carriers typically provide service from small cities, using primarily regional jets to support the network carriers’ hub and spoke systems.

Carrier Groups: The four network airlines employed 64.6 percent of the 430,607 FTEs employed by all scheduled passenger airlines in December, the six low-cost carriers employed 21.1 percent and the 11 regional carriers employed 12.5 percent (Table 4). In comparison, in December 2006, network airlines employed 65.0 percent, six low-cost carriers employed 17.9 percent and regional carriers employed 15.0 (Table5).

Top Employers by Group: American employed the most FTEs (100,645) in December among the network airlines, Southwest employed the most FTEs (56,110) among low-cost airlines, and Envoy employed the most FTEs (12,394) among regional airlines. The three airlines with the most FTEs in December – American, United and Delta – employed 61.8 percent of the month’s total passenger airline FTEs (Tables 3, 6).

Reporting Notes

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.

The “Other Carrier” category generally reflects those airlines that operate within specific niche markets such as the Hawaiian Islands served by Hawaiian Airlines.                             

Data are compiled from monthly reports filed with BTS by commercial air carriers as of Feb. 7,  Additional airline employment data and previous press releases can be found on the BTS website.  BTS has scheduled release of January passenger airline employment data for March 19.

Most recent 13 months - percent change from same month of the previous year
Network AirlinesLow-Cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesOther AirlinesAll Passenger Airlines **
Dec 2015 - Dec 20162.49.50.213.73.7
Jan 2016 - Jan 20172.39.71.812.73.9
Feb 2016 - Feb 20172.49.42.411.83.9
Mar 2016 - Mar 20172.79.12.011.74.0
Apr 2016 - Apr 20172.68.82.110.73.9
May 2016 - May 20172.48.32.59.83.7
Jun 2016 - Jun 20172.58.02.69.43.8
Jul 2016 - Jul 20172.37.32.78.53.5
Aug 2016 - Aug 20172.27.03.38.43.4
Sep 2016 - Sep 20172.16.84.36.73.4
Oct 2016 - Oct 20172.16.75.21.83.4
Nov 2016 - Nov 20172.06.55.40.93.3
Dec 2016 - Dec 20172.06.56.01.53.4
Notes: 
* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.
** Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers. Other Carriers generally operate within specific niche markets. They are: Hawaiian Airlines and Sun Country Airlines.
Note: See Table 2 for all passenger airlines, Table 7 for Network, Table 10 for Low-Cost and Table 13 for Regional.
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change in FTEs from the previous month
Network AirlinesLow-cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesOther AirlinesAll Passenger Airlines **
Dec 2016 - Jan 2017-0.11.01.60.50.4
Jan 2017 - Feb 20170.40.90.40.60.5
Feb 2017 - Mar 20170.80.6-0.30.60.6
Mar 2017 - Apr 20170.30.90.0-0.10.3
Apr 2017 - May 20170.30.60.70.80.5
May 2017 - Jun 20170.50.60.70.40.5
Jun 2017 - Jul 20170.00.20.50.10.1
Jul 2017 - Aug 2017-0.10.20.40.80.1
Aug 2017 - Sep 2017-0.10.40.5-0.10.1
Sep 2017 - Oct 20170.30.80.7-3.80.4
Oct 2017 - Nov 2017-0.20.30.20.5-0.1
Nov 2017 - Dec 20170.10.00.51.10.2
Notes: 
* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.
** Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers. Other Carriers generally operate within specific niche markets. They are: Hawaiian Airlines and Sun Country Airlines.
Note: See Table 2 for all passenger airlines, Table 7 for Network, Table 10 for Low-Cost and Table 13 for Regional.
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change compared to same month the previous year
Month2014201520162017
January0.51.24.13.9
February0.41.83.83.9
March0.81.93.94.0
April1.02.43.63.9
May1.12.63.73.7
June0.93.03.93.8
July1.32.74.33.5
August1.03.34.33.4
September1.13.34.33.4
October0.94.04.03.4
November1.53.73.73.3
December1.43.93.73.4
Notes: 
* Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers.
** Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent Change
201320142015201620172013 - 20172016 - 2017
January 380,042 381,819 386,528 402,270 417,833 9.9 3.9
February 380,414 381,985 388,976 403,917 419,762 10.3 3.9
March 380,540 383,575 390,817 405,983 422,278 11.0 4.0
April 380,487 384,265 393,439 407,763 423,747 11.4 3.9
May 381,372 385,619 395,621 410,338 425,656 11.6 3.7
June 381,672 385,243 396,973 412,333 427,818 12.1 3.8
July 381,299 386,243 396,503 413,746 428,209 12.3 3.5
August 380,486 384,478 397,007 414,242 428,455 12.6 3.4
September 380,165 384,501 397,326 414,558 428,673 12.8 3.4
October 381,178 384,700 399,928 415,979 430,232 12.9 3.4
November 381,224 386,912 401,280 416,046 429,946 12.8 3.3
December 380,809 386,222 401,440 416,337 430,607 13.1 3.4
12-Month Average 380,807 384,630 395,487 411,126 426,101 11.9 3.6
Notes: 
* Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers.
** Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.
 
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Network AirlinesLow-Cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesOther AirlinesAll Passenger Airlines**
2013 255,155 69,365 50,191 6,098 380,809
2014 257,251 72,399 50,083 6,489 386,222
2015 266,136 78,035 50,521 6,748 401,440
2016 272,614 85,434 50,616 7,673 416,337
2017 278,176 91,004 53,639 7,788 430,607
Percent of Total Passenger Airline Employees in 2017 64.6 21.1 12.5 1.8 100.0
Notes: 
* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.
** Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers.
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

(December of each year)
YearNetwork AirlinesLow-Cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesOther Airlines
200665.017.915.02.1
201266.918.413.31.4
201665.520.512.21.8
201764.621.112.51.8
Notes: 
* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.
** Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers.
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Ranked by Number of Full-Time Equivalent Employees*
RankAirlineTotal FTE EmployeesCarrier Group**Top 10 Airlines December 2016
1American 100,645 NetworkAmerican
2United 82,624 NetworkUnited
3Delta 81,765 NetworkDelta
4Southwest 56,110 Low-costSouthwest
5JetBlue 17,728 Low-costJetBlue
6Alaska 13,142 NetworkAlaska
7Envoy 12,394 RegionalEnvoy
8SkyWest 12,333 RegionalSkywest
9Spirit 6,600 Low-costExpressJet
10Hawaiian 6,019 OtherSpirit
Notes: 
* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.
** See Table 9 for Network, Table 12 for Low-Cost and Table 15 for Regional.
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change compared to same month of the previous year
2014201520162017
January0.40.83.32.3
February0.11.43.22.4
March0.61.72.92.7
April0.42.42.42.6
May0.52.72.32.4
June0.33.12.32.5
July0.43.12.42.3
August0.13.72.52.2
September0.43.62.62.1
October0.33.62.72.1
November0.43.72.32.0
December0.83.52.4 2.0
Notes: 

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013 - 20172016 - 2017
January 254,377 255,518 257,627 266,245 272,407 7.1 2.3
February 254,955 255,158 258,796 266,987 273,365 7.2 2.4
March 254,871 256,342 260,794 268,375 275,503 8.1 2.7
April 255,674 256,732 262,905 269,169 276,225 8.0 2.6
May 256,274 257,578 264,438 270,559 277,135 8.1 2.4
June 256,791 257,491 265,486 271,503 278,390 8.4 2.5
July 256,474 257,541 265,551 271,963 278,325 8.5 2.3
August 255,800 256,095 265,567 272,112 278,158 8.7 2.2
September 255,194 256,133 265,315 272,136 277,804 8.9 2.1
October 255,741 256,409 265,704 272,787 278,565 8.9 2.1
November 255,914 256,823 266,251 272,347 277,885 8.6 2.0
December 255,155 257,251 266,136 272,614 278,176 9.0 2.0
12-Month Average 255,602 256,589 263,714 270,566 276,828 8.3 2.3
Notes: 

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

(FTEs for December of each year. Ranked by December 2017 FTEs)
RankAirline20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013 - 20172016 - 2017
1American (+ US) 90,922 92,477 97,285 99,508 100,645 10.71.1
American 59,458 60,714 97,285 99,508 100,645 N/A 1.1
US Airways 31,464 31,763 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
2United 81,368 78,835 78,858 82,132 82,624 1.50.6
3Delta 73,356 75,737 79,072 79,447 81,765 11.52.9
4Alaska 9,509 10,202 10,921 11,527 13,142 38.214.0
Total 255,155 257,251 266,136 272,614 278,176 9.02.0
Notes: 
* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.
** American Airlines and US Airways merged and began reporting combined numbers in July 2015.
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change compared to same month of the previous year
2014201520162017
January0.34.67.99.7
February0.74.68.59.4
March0.83.99.69.1
April1.54.210.28.8
May1.84.310.78.3
June2.24.911.08.0
July2.55.211.37.3
August3.05.811.07.0
September2.96.610.66.8
October3.86.910.36.7
November5.26.59.86.5
December4.47.89.5 6.5
Notes: 

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013 - 20172016 - 2017
January 69,465 69,693 72,909 78,638 86,287 24.2 9.7
February 69,630 70,135 73,351 79,578 87,030 25.0 9.4
March 69,854 70,384 73,163 80,202 87,532 25.3 9.1
April 69,677 70,751 73,695 81,180 88,289 26.7 8.8
May 69,818 71,095 74,167 82,070 88,859 27.3 8.3
June 69,574 71,074 74,592 82,796 89,392 28.5 8.0
July 69,510 71,272 74,999 83,481 89,576 28.9 7.3
August 69,286 71,387 75,549 83,823 89,718 29.5 7.0
September 69,426 71,428 76,176 84,284 90,038 29.7 6.8
October 69,496 72,110 77,063 85,033 90,751 30.6 6.7
November 69,402 73,014 77,783 85,439 91,015 31.1 6.5
December 69,365 72,399 78,035 85,434 91,004 31.2 6.5
12-Month Average 69,542 71,229 75,124 82,663 89,124 28.2 7.8
Notes: 

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

(FTEs for December of each year. Ranked by December 2017 FTEs)
RankAirline20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013 - 20172016 - 2017
1Southwest 44,831 46,278 49,583 53,536 56,110 25.24.8
2JetBlue 12,952 13,665 15,219 16,531 17,728 36.97.2
3Spirit 3,543 3,925 4,702 5,597 6,600 86.317.9
4Allegiant 2,065 2,405 2,843 3,412 3,748 81.59.8
5Frontier 3,494 3,625 2,953 3,392 3,702 6.09.1
6Virgin America 2,480 2,501 2,735 2,966 3,116 25.65.1
Total 69,365 72,399 78,035 85,434 91,004 31.26.5
Notes: 

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change compared to same month of the previous year
Month2014201520162017
January-0.4-1.92.21.8
February0.5-0.30.2 2.4
March0.9-0.50.1 2.0
April2.3-0.40.1 2.1
May2.4-0.30.2 2.5
June1.90.10.9 2.6
July3.5-3.33.3 2.7
August2.5-2.73.3 3.3
September2.1-2.72.9 4.3
October-0.21.40.3 5.2
November1.5-0.20.2 5.4
December-0.20.90.2 6.0
Notes: 

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013 - 20172016 - 2017
January 50,640 50,425 49,477 50,544 51,430 1.6 1.8
February 50,191 50,458 50,318 50,416 51,614 2.8 2.4
March 50,181 50,623 50,361 50,424 51,442 2.5 2.0
April 49,387 50,526 50,326 50,374 51,438 4.2 2.1
May 49,424 50,633 50,469 50,554 51,803 4.8 2.5
June 49,415 50,336 50,373 50,823 52,144 5.5 2.6
July 49,387 51,107 49,403 51,021 52,408 6.1 2.7
August 49,434 50,671 49,320 50,957 52,615 6.4 3.3
September 49,546 50,574 49,231 50,677 52,871 6.7 4.3
October 49,890 49,789 50,486 50,637 53,255 6.7 5.2
November 49,851 50,605 50,522 50,625 53,346 7.0 5.4
December 50,191 50,083 50,521 50,616 53,639 6.9 6.0
12-Month Average 49,795 50,486 50,067 50,639 52,334 5.1 3.3
Notes: 

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

(FTEs for December of each year. Ranked by December 2017 FTEs)
RankAirline20132014201520162017Percent Change
2013 - 20172016 - 2017
1Envoy 11,030 10,841 10,700 10,930 12,394 12.413.4
2SkyWest 9,696 9,642 10,411 10,866 12,333 27.213.5
3YX/S5/RP Combined# 5,758 5,883 5,542 4,984 5,637 -2.113.1
Republic 2,647 3,122 3,124 3,960 5,637 N/A N/A
Shuttle America 1,982 2,715 2,418 1,024 N/A N/A N/A
Chautauqua 1,129 46 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
4ExpressJet 9,054 8,671 7,394 6,278 4,393 -51.5-30.0
5Endeavor 3,920 3,447 3,292 3,768 4,177 6.610.9
6Horizon 2,731 2,895 3,214 3,295 3,578 31.08.6
7PSA 1,120 1,799 2,454 2,772 3,395 203.122.5
8Mesa 1,804 2,204 2,790 3,090 3,231 79.14.6
9Compass 1,279 1,466 1,653 1,899 1,772 38.5-6.7
10Air Wisconsin 2,467 1,893 1,834 1,437 1,420 -42.4-1.2
11GoJet 1,332 1,342 1,237 1,297 1,309 -1.70.9
Total 50,191 50,083 50,521 50,616 53,639 6.96.0
Notes: 
* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.
# Effective the end of December 2016, Republic and Shuttle America combined operations and Shuttle America ceased operating. Effective the end of December 2014, Shuttle America and Chautauqua Airlines combined operations and Chautauqua ceased operating.
N/A: Carriers did not meet the standard for filing, was no longer operating, merged with another operating carrier or failed to file. See previous notes.
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics