The 21 U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 2.5% more workers in February 2019 than in February 2018:
- February’s 443,058 full-time equivalents (FTE) was the highest February employment total since February 2003 (460,852 FTEs).
- February was the 64th 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 February, 1990-2019 February FTEs in thousands (000)
FTE calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.
Bureau of Transportation Statistics
All 21 scheduled service passenger airlines
- 443,058 FTEs
- Up 2.5% (10,826 FTEs) over February 2018 (432,232 FTEs)
- Up 13.9% (54,082 FTEs) over February 2015 (388,976 FTEs)
Four network airlines
- 284,770 FTEs, 64.3% of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
- Up 1.1% (3,029 FTEs) over February 2018 (281,741 FTEs)
- Up 10.0% (25,974 FTEs) over February 2015 (258,796 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
- 93,888 FTEs, 21.2% of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
- Up 5.4% (4,792 FTEs) over February 2018 (89,096 FTEs)
- Up 28.0% (20,537 FTEs) over February 2015 (73,351 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
- 56,340 FTEs, 12.7% of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
- Up 5.3% (2,850 FTEs) over February 2018 (53,490 FTEs)
- Up 12.0% (6,022 FTEs) over February 2015 (50,318 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 100,584 FTEs
- Low-Cost: Southwest 59,302 FTEs
- Regional: SkyWest 15,038 FTEs
Two other airlines
Other carriers generally operate within specific niche markets. They are: Hawaiian Airlines and Sun Country Airlines.