The 21 U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 2.3 percent more workers in December 2018 than in December 2017:
- December’s 440,396 full-time equivalents (FTEs) was the highest December employment total since December 2002 (462,602 FTEs).
- December was the 62nd consecutive month that U.S. scheduled passenger airline FTEs exceeded the same month of the previous year.
Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-Time Equivalent Employees, Month of December, 1990-2018
December FTEs in thousands (000)Notes:
FTE calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.
Bureau of Transportation Statistics
All 21 scheduled service passenger airlines
- 440,396 FTEs
- Up 2.3 percent (9,789 FTEs) from December 2017 (430,607 FTEs)
- Up 14.0 percent (54,174 FTEs) from December 2014 (386,222 FTEs)
Four network airlines
- 283,677 FTEs, 64.4 percent of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
- Up 2.0 percent (5,501 FTEs) from December 2017 (278,176 FTEs)
- Up 10.3 percent (26,426 FTEs) from December 2014 (257,251 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
- 92,789 FTEs, 21.1 percent of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
- Up 2.0 percent (1,785 FTEs) from December 2017 (91,004 FTEs)
- Up 28.2 percent (20,390 FTEs) from December 2014 (72,399 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
- 55,789 FTEs, 12.7 percent of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
- Up 4.0 percent (2,150 FTEs) from December 2017 (53,639 FTEs)
- Up 11.4 percent (5,706 FTEs) from December 2014 (50,083 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 101,420 FTEs
- Low-Cost: Southwest 58,803 FTEs
- Regional: SkyWest 14,566 FTEs
Two other airlines
Other carriers generally operate within specific niche markets. They are: Hawaiian Airlines and Sun Country Airlines.
Airlines that operate at least one aircraft that has more than 60 seats or the capacity to carry a payload of passengers, cargo and fuel weighing more than 18,000 pounds must report monthly employment statistics.