The 21 U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 2.9% more workers in November 2019 than in November 2018:

  • November’s 452,668 full-time equivalents (FTEs) was the highest employment total since March 2003 (458,598 FTEs).  
  • November was the 73rd consecutive month that U.S. scheduled passenger airline FTEs exceeded the same month of the previous year.

Employees at U.S. Scheduled Passenger Airlines Month of November, 1990-2019 (Full-Time Equivalents)Notes: 

FTE calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

All 21 scheduled service passenger airlines

  • 452,668 FTEs
  • Up 2.9% (12,791 FTEs) from November 2018 (439,877 FTEs)
  • Up 12.8% (51,388 FTEs) from November 2015 (401,280 FTEs)

Four network airlines

  • 288,147 FTEs, 63.7% of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
  • Up 1.7% (4,853FTEs) from November 2018 (283,294 FTEs)
  • Up 8.2% (21,896 FTEs) from November 2015 (266,251 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

  • 97,523 FTEs, 21.5% of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
  • Up 5.0% (4,660 FTEs) from November 2018 (92,863 FTEs)
  • Up 25.4% (19,740 FTEs) from November 2015 (77,783 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

  • 58,769 FTEs, 13.0% of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
  • Up 5.7% (3,157 FTEs) over November 2018 (55,612 FTEs)
  • Up 16.3% (8,247 FTEs) over November 2015 (50,522 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    101,175 FTEs
  • Low-Cost: Southwest    60,746 FTEs
  • Regional: SkyWest        15,433 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.

Logos, product and company names mentioned are the property of their respective owners.

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