January 2016 US passenger airline employment data released

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WASHINGTON, DC – US scheduled passenger airlines employed 4.1 percent more workers in January 2016 than in January 2015, the US Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. January was the highest monthly total (402,204) since August 2008 and was the 26th 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 rose 0.2 percent from December to January. Scheduled passenger airline categories include network, low-cost, regional and other airlines.

The four network airlines that collectively employ two-thirds of the scheduled passenger airline FTEs reported 3.3 percent more FTEs in January 2016 than in January 2015. Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines increased FTEs from January 2015. American Airlines, which has merged with US Airways, reported 4.8 percent more FTEs in January 2016 than American and US Airways reported separately in January 2015. 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 December to January. 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 7.9 percent more FTEs in January 2016 than in January 2015. Allegiant Airlines, Spirit Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Virgin America and Southwest Airlines reported increases while Frontier Airlines reduced FTEs. Month-to-month, the number of low-cost airline FTEs rose 0.8 percent from December to January, rising for the 10th 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 2.0 percent more FTEs in January 2016 than in January 2015. Six regional airlines – PSA Airlines, Compass Airlines, Mesa Airlines, Horizon Air, GoJet Airlines and SkyWest Airlines – reported increased employment levels. The others reported decreases. Month-to-month, the number of regional airline FTEs was virtually unchanged from December to January. Regional carriers typically provide service from small cities, using primarily regional jets to support the network carriers’ hub and spoke systems.