U.S. Airline Employment Trends

January 2019 U.S. Passenger Airline Employment Data

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January 2019 U.S. Passenger Airline Employment Data

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

The 21 U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 2.8 percent more workers in January 2019 than in January 2018:

  • January’s 441,783 full-time equivalents (FTE) was the highest January employment total since January 2003 (466,881 FTEs).
  • January was the 63rd consecutive month that U.S. scheduled passenger airline FTEs exceeded the same month of the previous year.

Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-Time Equivalent Employees, Month of January, 1990-2019 January FTEs in thousands (000)Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

All 21 scheduled service passenger airlines

  • 441,783 FTEs
  • Up 2.8 percent (11,941 FTEs) over January 2018 (429,842 FTEs)
  • Up 14.3 percent (55,255 FTEs) over January 2015 (386,528 FTEs)

Four network airlines

  • 283,825 FTEs, 64.2 percent of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
  • Up 1.0 percent (2,687 FTEs) over January 2018 (281,138 FTEs)
  • Up 10.2 percent (26,198 FTEs) over January 2015 (257,627 FTEs)

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. Note that beginning with January 2018 data, Virgin America’s numbers are included with Alaska Airlines in the network category.

Five low-cost airlines

  • 93,307 FTEs, 21.1 percent of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
  • Up 5.4 percent (4,805 FTEs) over January 2018 (88,502 FTEs)
  • Up 28.0 percent (20,398 FTEs) over January 2015 (72,909 FTEs)  

Low-cost airlines operate under a low-cost business model, with infrastructure and aircraft operating costs below the overall industry average.

10 regional airlines

  • 56,486 FTEs, 12.8 percent of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
  • Up 7.9 percent (4,134 FTEs) over January 2018 (52,352 FTEs)
  • Up 14.2 percent (7,009 FTEs) over January 2015 (49,477 FTEs)

Regional carriers typically provide service from small cities, using primarily regional jets to support the network carriers’ hub and spoke systems.

Top Employers by Group

  • Network: American    100,623 FTEs
  • Low-Cost: Southwest   59,083 FTEs
  • Regional: SkyWest       14,965 FTEs

Two other airlines

Other carriers generally operate within specific niche markets. They are: Hawaiian Airlines and Sun Country Airlines.



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