BTS: US passenger airline employment up

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US WASHINGTON, DC – US passenger airlines employed 3.7 percent more workers in December 2015 than in December 2014, the US Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. December was the highest monthly total (400,422) since August 2008 and was the 25th consecutive month that US scheduled passenger airlines full-time equivalent (FTE) employment exceeded the same month of the previous year.

Month-to-month, the number of FTEs was virtually unchanged from November to December, after four consecutive month-to-month increases. 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 two-thirds of the scheduled passenger airline FTEs reported 3.5 percent more FTEs in December 2015 than in December 2014. Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines increased FTEs from December 2014 while United Airlines’ FTEs were virtually unchanged. American Airlines, which has merged with US Airways, reported 5.2 percent more FTEs in December 2015 than American and US Airways reported separately in December 2014. July 2015 was the first month for which the two merged airlines submitted a combined report. Month-to-month, the number of network airline FTEs was virtually unchanged from November to December. 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 7.7 percent more FTEs in December 2015 than in December 2014. Spirit Airlines, Allegiant Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Virgin America, Southwest Airlines reported increases while Frontier Airlines reduced FTEs. Month-to-month, the number of low-cost airline FTEs rose 0.2 percent from November to December, rising for the ninth consecutive month. Low-cost airlines operate under a low-cost business model, with infrastructure and aircraft operating costs below the overall industry average.

The 12 regional carriers reported 1.0 percent fewer FTEs in December 2015 than in December 2014. Six regional airlines – PSA Airlines, Mesa Airlines, Compass Airlines, Horizon Air, SkyWest Airlines and Republic Airlines – reported increased employment levels. The others reported decreases. Month-to-month, the number of regional airline FTEs was virtually unchanged from November to December. Regional carriers typically provide service from small cities, using primarily regional jets to support the network carriers’ hub and spoke systems.