US passenger airline employment up 4.3 percent

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WASHINGTON, DC – US scheduled passenger airlines employed 4.3 percent more workers in July 2016 than in July 2015, the US Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today.

July was the highest monthly total (413,746) since June 2008 and was the 33rd consecutive month that US scheduled passenger airline full-time equivalent (FTE) employment exceeded the same month of the previous year.


Month-to-month, the number of FTEs rose 0.3 percent from June to July. 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 2.4 percent more FTEs in July 2016 than in July 2015. United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines increased FTEs from July 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 rose 0.2 percent from June to July.

The network airlines employed 4.2 percent more FTEs in July 2016 than in July 2012. 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 11.3 percent more FTEs in July 2016 than in July 2015. Allegiant Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Virgin America, Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways increased FTEs from July 2015. Month-to-month, the number of low-cost airline FTEs rose 0.8 percent from June to July. The six low-cost airlines employed 19.7 percent more FTEs in July 2016 than in July 2012. 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 3.3 percent more FTEs in July 2016 than in July 2015. Eight regional airlines – Compass Airlines, Mesa Airlines, PSA Airlines, Republic Airlines, Endeavor Air, Envoy Air, GoJet Airlines, SkyWest Airlines, and Horizon Air – increased FTEs from July 2015. The others reported decreases. Month-to-month, the number of regional airline FTEs rose 0.4 percent from June to July.

The 12 regional carriers reporting in July 2016 employed 3.2 percent fewer FTEs in July 2016 than the 15 carriers reporting in July 2012. Regional carriers typically provide service from small cities, using primarily regional jets to support the network carriers’ hub and spoke systems.