U.S. Airline Employment Trends

July 2019 U.S. Passenger Airline Employment Data

The 21 U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 1.5% more workers in July 2019 than in July 2018:

  • July’s 449,907 full-time equivalents (FTEs) was the highest employment total since March 2003 (458,598 FTEs).  
  • June was the 69th consecutive month that U.S. scheduled passenger airline FTEs exceeded the same month of the previous year.

Infographic - U.S. Airline Employment Trends July 2019

Employees at U.S. Scheduled Passenger Airlines Month of July, 1990-2019 (Full-Time Equivalents)Notes: 

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

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

U.S. airline employment reports are filed monthly with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. See the tables that accompany this release on the BTS website for detailed data since 2015 (Tables 1-15) and industry summary data since 1990.

All 21 scheduled service passenger airlines

  • 449,907 FTEs
  • Up 1.5% (6,432 FTEs) over July 2018 (443,475 FTEs)
  • Up 13.5% (53,404 FTEs) over July 2015 (396,503 FTEs)

Four network airlines

  • 288,938 FTEs, 64.2% of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
  • Down 0.2% (-694 FTEs) from July 2018 (289,632 FTEs)
  • Up 8.8% (23,387 FTEs) over July 2015 (265,551 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

  • 95,776 FTEs, 21.3% of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
  • Up 4.9% (4,471 FTEs) over July 2018 (91,305 FTEs)
  • Up 27.7% (20,777 FTEs) over July 2015 (74,999 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

  • 57,024 FTEs, 12.7% of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
  • Up 4.5% (2,434 FTEs) over July 2018 (54,590 FTEs)
  • Up 15.4% (7,621 FTEs) over July 2015 (49,403 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    101,812 FTEs
  • Low-Cost: Southwest   59,965 FTEs
  • Regional: SkyWest       15,070 FTEs

Two other airlines

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



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