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December 2011 Passenger Airline Employment Rose 2.7 Percent from December 2010

Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-Time Equivalent Employees, January 2010-December 2011

Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 2.7 percent more workers in December 2011 than they did in December 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. This is the 13th consecutive month that full-time equivalent employee (FTE) levels for the scheduled passenger carriers have been higher than the same month of the previous year (Tables 1, 2). FTE calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

Table Version | Excel | CSV

Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-Time Equivalent Employees, January 2010-December 2011

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the December FTE total of 389,728 for the scheduled passenger carriers was 10,077 more than that of December 2010 (Table 3). These monthly increases reflect gradual improvement in the industry’s employment following declines that began in July 2008 (Table 2). Historic employment data can be found on the BTS web site.

Of the network airlines, only Delta Air Lines, which has been eliminating duplicate positions following its merger with Northwest Airlines, decreased employment from December 2010 to December 2011. Continental Airlines reported 14.5 percent more FTEs in December 2011 than in December 2010, the largest increase among the network carriers. US Airways followed Continental with a 2.9 percent increase (Table 9). Network airlines operate a significant portion of flights using at least one hub where connections are made for flights to down-line destinations or spoke cities.

All seven low-cost carriers reported more FTEs in December 2011 than in December 2010, except for Allegiant Air and Frontier Airlines, which reported a 1.2 percent decrease and a 4.9 percent decrease, respectively. The low-cost carriers with more reported FTEs are Virgin America Airlines, Spirit Airlines, JetBlue Airways, AirTran Airways and Southwest Airlines (Table 12).

Among the 17 regional carriers, the six carriers reporting reduced employment levels compared to last year were Horizon Airlines, Republic Airlines, Comair, Mesaba Airlines, Mesa Airlines and Executive Airlines (Table 15). 

Scheduled passenger airline categories include network, low-cost, regional and other airlines.

Carrier Groups: The six network airlines employed 67.4 percent of the scheduled passenger airline total in December, the seven low-cost carriers employed 17.7 percent and the 17 regional carriers employed 13.7 percent. The 2010 to 2011 increases for all carrier groups result from the relatively consistent profits for most of the industry (Table 4). 

Top employers by group: Delta employed the most FTEs in December among the network airlines, Southwest employed the most FTEs among low-cost airlines, and American Eagle Airlines employed the most FTEs among regional airlines. Five of the top six employers in the industry are network airlines (Table 6).

Network Airlines

Recent Trend: The six network airlines employed 5,783 more FTEs in December 2011 than in December 2010. Five of the six network carriers increased FTEs from December 2010 to December 2011 (Table 9).

Five-Year Trend: The six network airlines employed 20,062 fewer FTEs in December 2011 than in December 2007. United Airlines reported the biggest percentage decline in FTE employment from 2007 to 2011, down 16.2 percent, followed by American Airlines, down 9.7 percent and Alaska Airlines down 9.1 percent. December 2011 numbers for Delta are not comparable to 2007 because of the intervening merger (Tables 8, 9).

Low-Cost Airlines

Recent Trend: The seven low-cost airlines’ FTEs were up 6.5 percent in December 2011 from December 2010. All low-cost airlines except Allegiant and Frontier reported year-to-year increases (Table 12).

Five-Year Trend: The seven low-cost carriers reporting employment data in both 2007 and 2011 employed 10.9 percent more FTEs in December 2011 than in December 2007.  Virgin America reported the largest percentage increase, up 187.3 percent but Frontier and AirTran reported declines (Table 12).

Low-cost airlines are those that the industry recognizes as operating under a low-cost business model, with lower infrastructure and aircraft operating costs.

Regional Airlines

Recent Trend: The 17 regional airlines’ FTEs were up 1.5 percent in December 2011 compared to December 2010. GoJet Airlines and Shuttle America reported the largest percentage increases. Comair and Mesaba reported the largest percentage decreases (Table 15).

Five-Year Trend: The 16 regional carriers reporting employment data in both 2007 and 2011 employed 13.4 percent fewer FTEs in 2011 than in 2007. Comair reported the largest percentage decline followed by Mesa and Mesaba (Table 15).

Compass Airlines reported the biggest four-year percentage gain followed by GoJet Airlines. Effective with January 2010 reporting, Republic’s employment numbers include FTEs from Midwest Airlines. Midwest employment data were formerly included in the "Other Airlines" category (Table 15).

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

Reporting Notes

Airlines that operate at least one aircraft with the capacity to carry combined passengers, cargo and fuel of 18,000 pounds – the payload factor – must report monthly employment statistics.

The Other Carrier category generally reflects those airlines that operate within specific niche markets, such as Hawaiian Airlines serving the Hawaiian Islands and the Far East.

Data are compiled from monthly reports filed with BTS by commercial air carriers as of Feb. 22. Additional airline employment data can be found on the BTS website. BTS has scheduled release of January 2012 passenger airline employment data for March 28.

Table 1: Change from Previous Year in Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Airline Group

Most recent 13 months - Percent Changecompared to same month of the previous year

Excel | CSV

MonthNetwork AirlinesLow-Cost AirlinesRegional AirlinesAll Passenger Airlines**
Dec. 2009-Dec. 2010-0.53.3-0.30.2
Jan. 2010-Jan. 20110.32.20.40.4
Feb. 2010-Feb. 20111.12.30.91.0
Mar. 2010-Mar. 20111.52.31.81.5
Apr. 2010-Apr. 20111.84.02.11.9
May 2010-May 20112.14.11.62.1
June 2010-June 20111.65.01.51.9
July 2010-July 20112.15.31.92.3
Aug. 2010-Aug. 20112.75.72.12.8
Sept. 2010-Sept. 20112.75.92.02.9
Oct. 2010-Oct. 20112.76.22.13.0
Nov. 2010-Nov. 20112.65.90.62.6
Dec. 2010-Dec. 20112.36.51.52.7

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

** Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers. Other Carriers generally operate within specific niche markets.  They are: Hawaiian Airlines, Sun Country Airlines and USA3000 Airlines.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Note: See Table 7 for Network, Table 10 for Low-Cost, Table 13 for Regional, and Table 2 for all passenger airlines.

Table 2: Change from Previous Year in Scheduled Passenger Airline* Full-time Equivalent Employees**

Percent Changecompared to same month the previous year

Excel | CSV

Month2008200920102011
January3.4-6.7-2.90.4
February3.0-6.6-3.51.0
March1.9-5.6-3.81.5
April1.3-5.5-4.12.0
May0.8-6.8-2.72.1
June0.1-6.3-2.41.9
July-0.8-5.9-2.32.4
August-2.1-5.5-1.72.8
September-4.5-4.4-0.62.9
October-5.7-3.7-0.43.0
November-6.5-3.30.02.6
December-6.6-3.30.22.7

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers.

** Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 3: Scheduled Passenger Airline* Full-time Equivalent Employees** by Month

Numbers in thousands (000’s)

Excel | CSV

Month20072008200920102011Percent Change
2007-20112010-2011
January404.1418.7390.6379.4380.9-5.70.4
February405.8419.0391.6378.0381.8-5.91.0
March407.9415.5392.1377.3382.8-6.11.5
April410.0415.4392.1376.2383.4-6.51.9
May412.3415.5387.4377.0384.7-6.72.1
June413.9414.4387.7378.3385.4-6.91.9
July414.4411.1386.8378.1386.8-6.72.3
August415.2406.7384.3377.8388.5-6.42.8
September416.1397.3379.9377.7388.6-6.62.9
October417.9394.2379.7378.1389.4-6.83.0
November419.5392.1379.4379.3389.4-7.22.6
December419.7391.8379.0379.7389.7-7.12.7
12-Month Average413.1407.6385.9378.1386.0-6.62.1

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers.

** Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

Note: Percent changes and averages based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 4: Airline Group Full-time Equivalent Employees*, December 2007-2011

FTE numbers in thousands (000’s)

Excel | CSV

 NetworkLow-CostRegionalAll Passenger Airlines**
2007282.764.861.1419.7
2008264.762.657.9391.8
2009258.162.652.7379.0
2010256.864.752.5379.7
2011262.668.953.3389.7
Pct. Change 2007-2011-7.1%6.3%-12.7%-7.1%
Percent of Total Passenger Airline Employees in 201167.4%17.7%13.7% 

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

** Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 5: Year-to-Year Change in Airline Group Full-time Equivalent Employees*, December 2007-2011

Percent Changein FTEs from the same month of the previous year

Excel | CSV

 NetworkLow-CostRegionalAll Passenger Airlines**
20077.5-10.64.93.7
2008-6.3-3.3-5.2-6.6
2009-2.50.0-8.9-3.3
2010-0.53.3-0.30.2
20112.36.61.52.7

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

** Includes network, low-cost, regional and other carriers.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 6: Top 10 Airlines, December 2011

Ranked by Number of Full-Time Equivalent Employees*

Excel | CSV

RankAirlineTotal FTE Employees (000)Carrier Group**Top 10 Airlines December 2010
1Delta76.0NetworkDelta
2American66.1NetworkAmerican
3United44.0NetworkUnited
4Southwest37.6Low-CostSouthwest
5Continental37.1NetworkContinental
6US Airways30.5NetworkUS Airways
7JetBlue12.1Low-CostJetBlue
8American Eagle10.1RegionalAmerican Eagle
9SkyWest9.4RegionalSkyWest
10Alaska9.0NetworkAlaska

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

** See Table 9 for Network, Table 12 for Low-Cost and Table 15 for Regional

Table 7: Network Airlines - Year-to-Year Change in Full-time Equivalent Employees* from the Previous Year

Percent Changecompared to same month the previous year

Excel | CSV

 2008200920102011
January7.5-6.3-2.30.3
February7.7-6.4-3.01.1
March7.5-6.7-3.11.5
April7.1-6.5-3.61.8
May6.4-8.2-1.92.1
June5.3-7.8-1.61.6
July4.3-7.1-1.62.1
August2.7-6.4-0.92.7
September-0.2-5.00.32.7
October-5.4-2.8-1.22.7
November-6.2-2.7-0.72.6
December-6.3-2.5-0.52.3

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 8: Network Airlines Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Month**

Numbers in thousands (000’s)

Excel | CSV

Month20072008200920102011Percent Change
2007-20112010-2011
January262.0281.7263.9257.8258.7-1.30.3
February262.4282.6264.6256.8259.5-1.11.1
March264.1283.9264.8256.5260.5-1.41.5
April264.8283.7265.2255.7260.3-1.71.8
May266.6283.6260.5255.5260.8-2.22.1
June268.6282.8260.8256.6260.7-2.91.6
July268.7280.4260.5256.4261.7-2.62.1
August268.8276.1258.6256.1263.1-2.12.7
September268.8268.4254.9255.8262.6-2.32.7
October281.9266.6259.0255.9262.9-6.72.7
November282.7265.2258.1256.4263.1-6.92.6
December282.7264.7258.1256.8262.6-7.12.3
12-Month Average270.2276.7260.8256.4261.4-3.32.0

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

** US Airways’ employment numbers were included with network airlines prior to November 2007 while America West's numbers were included with low-cost airlines. Beginning with October 2007, US Airways’ numbers are combined with America West’s numbers in the network category. 

Note: Percent changes and averages based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 9: By Network Airline: Full-time Equivalent Employees*, December 2007-2011

(FTEs for December of each year.  Ranked by December 2011 FTEs)

Numbers in thousands (000’s)

Excel | CSV

Rank 20072008200920102011Percent Change
2007-20112010-2011
1Delta**48.445.449.076.576.056.9-0.7
2American73.270.166.765.766.1-9.70.6
3United52.445.843.943.644.0-16.20.8
4Continental***36.034.533.232.437.13.114.5
5US Airways32.731.429.929.630.5-6.92.9
6Alaska9.99.69.39.09.0-9.10.2
7Northwest**30.028.026.2N/AN/AN/AN/A
 Total282.7264.7258.1256.8262.6-7.12.3

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Note: Detail December not add to total due to rounding

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

** Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines completed their merger and began reporting combined numbers in February 2010

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 10: Low-Cost Airlines - Year-to-Year Change in Full-time Equivalent Employees* from the Previous Year

Percent Changecompared to same month the previous year

Excel | CSV

Month2008200920102011
January-9.7-3.11.42.2
February-10.2-3.01.42.3
March**-13.30.11.22.3
April-15.21.20.54.0
May-14.81.20.64.1
June-14.90.80.95.0
July-16.10.91.55.3
August-16.4-0.22.05.7
September-17.3-0.12.75.9
October-1.5-0.43.06.2
November-2.8-0.13.25.9
December-3.30.03.36.6

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

** ATA Airlines ceased operating April 3, 2008 and stopped reporting employment data in April.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 11: Low-Cost Airlines Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Month**

Numbers in thousands (000’s)

Excel | CSV

 2007***2008200920102011Percent Change
2007-20112010-2011
January71.764.762.763.665.0-9.42.2
February72.364.963.063.865.3-9.42.3
March****72.662.963.063.865.3-10.12.3
April73.862.563.363.666.1-10.44.0
May73.762.863.563.966.6-9.74.1
June74.063.063.564.067.3-9.25.0
July74.562.563.064.067.4-9.55.3
August75.262.962.864.067.7-10.05.7
September75.562.562.464.167.9-10.15.9
October63.662.762.464.368.37.36.2
November64.562.762.664.768.56.15.9
December64.862.662.664.768.96.36.6
12-Month Average71.463.162.964.067.0-6.14.6

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

** US Airways’ employment numbers were included with the network airlines prior to November 2007 while America West's numbers were included with the low-cost airlines.  Beginning with November 2007, US Airways’ numbers are combined with America West Airlines’ numbers in the network category. 

*** Virgin America and SkyBus began reporting employment data in November 2007. SkyBus stopped reporting employment data effective in April 2008 resulting from its bankruptcy filing.

**** ATA Airlines ceased operating on April 3, 2008 and stopped reporting employment data effective in April.

Note: Percent changes and averages based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 12: By Low-Cost Carrier: Full-time Equivalent Employees,* December 2007-2011**

(FTEs for December of each year.  Ranked by December 2011 FTEs)

Excel | CSV

Rank 20072008200920102011Percent Change**
2007-20112010-2011
1Southwest34,37835,49934,72634,90137,6419.57.9
2JetBlue10,14510,37710,85611,28712,13319.67.5
3AirTran8,2367,4897,8447,9928,022-2.60.4
4Frontier5,2164,3974,2844,8974,658-10.7-4.9
5Spirit2,2012,2631,9202,1982,73324.224.3
6Virgin America***7351,2591,4211,7702,112187.319.3
7Allegiant1,1801,3481,5651,6091,59034.7-1.2
8SkyBus381N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
9ATA****2,319N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
 Total64,79162,63262,61664,65468,88710.96.5

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

** The Percent Change2007-2011 is based on the six carriers reporting in both years.

*** Virgin America and SkyBus began reporting employment data in December 2007. SkyBus stopped reporting employment data effective in April 2008 resulting from its bankruptcy filing.

**** ATA Airlines ceased operating on April 3, 2008 and stopped reporting employment data effective in April.

N/A: Carrier did not meet the standard for filing, was no longer operating, merged with another operating carrier or failed to file.  See previous notes.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 13: Regional Airlines - Year-to-Year Change in Full-time Equivalent Employees* from the Previous Year

Percent Changecompared to same month the previous year

Excel | CSV

Month2008***200920102011
January3.7-6.0-8.50.4
February1.1-4.9-9.80.9
March0.6-4.9-10.11.8
April2.0-7.4-9.32.1
May1.3-7.7-8.01.6
June1.8-7.2-7.71.5
July1.4-6.9-7.51.9
August0.3-6.8-7.22.1
September-2.1-5.7-6.62.0
October-5.3-10.10.52.1
November-6.0-7.5-1.00.6
December-5.2-8.9-0.31.5

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

** Compass began reporting employment numbers in December 2007.

*** Lynx Airlines began reporting in February 2008. Colgan Airlines began reporting in April 2008. TransStates Airlines no longer met reporting requirements beginning in April 2008.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 14: Regional Airlines Full-time Equivalent Employees* by Month

Numbers in thousands (000’s

Excel | CSV

 2007**2008***200920102011Percent Change
2007-20112010-2011
January58.961.157.452.552.8-10.40.4
February59.960.557.652.052.4-12.50.9
March59.960.257.351.552.5-12.31.8
April60.161.356.851.552.6-12.52.1
May60.661.456.652.152.9-12.61.6
June59.961.056.652.253.0-11.51.5
July59.960.756.552.253.2-11.11.9
August60.260.356.252.253.3-11.52.1
September60.759.456.052.353.4-12.12.0
October61.258.052.152.453.5-12.62.1
November61.157.553.252.753.0-13.30.6
December61.157.952.752.553.3-12.71.5
12-Month Average60.359.955.852.253.0-12.11.5

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

** Compass began reporting employment numbers in December 2007.

*** Lynx Airlines began reporting in February 2008. Colgan Airlines began reporting in April 2008. Trans States Airlines no longer met reporting requirements beginning in April 2008.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 15: By Regional Airline: Full-time Equivalent Employees*, December 2007-2011

(FTEs for December of each year.  Ranked by December 2011 FTEs)

Excel | CSV

Rank 20072008200920102011Percent Change**
2007-20112010-2011
1American Eagle9,6799,2208,9969,48710,0914.36.4
2SkyWest10,2498,9868,6929,0689,426-8.03.9
3ExpressJet7,7535,2675,2895,4145,484-29.31.3
4Pinnacle3,2833,6223,3163,4413,86117.612.2
5Atlantic Southeast4,2954,3533,6013,7103,840-10.63.5
6Horizon3,7413,4473,2102,9102,830-24.4-2.7
7Air Wisconsin2,1792,6602,5102,5102,55117.11.6
8Republic***1,3241,4182,6742,1051,94947.2-7.4
9Comair6,3495,5332,5942,4481,913-69.9-21.9
10Mesaba2,9263,7632,2442,1641,833-37.4-15.3
11Mesa3,0912,9122,5192,0451,810-41.4-11.5
12Executive1,7201,6441,7921,8291,7682.8-3.3
13ColganN/A1,2771,2351,5111,582N/A4.7
14Shuttle America1,1191,2321,2491,2981,56139.520.3
15Compass3557618889501,046194.610.1
16PSA1,3619889659951,041-23.54.6
17GoJet363445560554746105.534.7
18Lynx*****N/A359399115N/AN/AN/A
19Trans States****1,293N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
 Total61,08057,88452,73052,54953,328-13.41.5

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

* Full-time Equivalent Employee (FTE) calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

** The Percent Change2007-2011 is based on the 15 carriers reporting in both years.

*** Effective with December 2009 reporting, Republic Airlines' employment numbers include FTE's from Midwest Airlines.  Midwest employment data were formerly included in the "Other Airlines" category.

**** Effective with April 2008 reporting, Trans States Airlines no longer met the reporting requirements for filing monthly airline employment data.

*****Effective the end of March 2011, Lynx Airlines ceased operations.

N/A: Not applicable because carriers did not meet the standard for filing.

Note: Detail may not add to total due to rounding.

Note: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012