The 21 U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 2.5% more workers in March 2019 than in March 2018:
- March’s 444,967 full-time equivalents (FTE) was the highest March employment total since March 2003 (458,598 FTEs).
- March was the 65th consecutive month that FTEs exceeded the same month of the previous year.
Employees at U.S. Scheduled Passenger Airlines Month of March, 1990-2019 March FTEs in thousands (000)Notes:
FTE calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.
Bureau of Transportation Statistics
U.S. airline employment reports are filed monthly with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. See the tables that accompany this release on the BTS website for detailed data since 2015 (Tables 1-15) and industry summary data since 1990.
All 21 scheduled service passenger airlines
- 444,967 FTEs
- Up 2.5% (10,724 FTEs) over March 2018 (434,243 FTEs)
- Up 13.9% (54,150 FTEs) over March 2015 (390,817 FTEs)
Four network airlines
- 286,199 FTEs, 64.3% of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
- Up 1.1% (3,037 FTEs) over March 2018 (283,162 FTEs)
- Up 9.7% (25,405 FTEs) over March 2015 (260,794 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
- 94,303 FTEs, 21.2% of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
- Up 5.3% (4,710 FTEs) over March 2018 (89,593 FTEs)
- Up 28.9% (21,140 FTEs) over March 2015 (73,163 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
- 56,380 FTEs, 12.7% of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
- Up 5.2% (2,783 FTEs) over March 2018 (53,597 FTEs)
- Up 12.0% (6,019 FTEs) over March 2015 (50,361 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 101,133 FTEs
- Low-Cost: Southwest 59,436 FTEs
- Regional: SkyWest 15,030 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.
Data are compiled from monthly reports filed with BTS by commercial air carriers as of May 7.