Skift Take

Besides the seasonal factors, the macro picture is that U.S. airlines are cutting flights to improve efficiency, and that also means lower number of full time employees.

The drily named Bureau of Transportation Statistics under the U.S. Dept. of Transportation comes out with regular reports of the state of U.S. aviation industry, most of them pretty rich in information and poor in user-friendliness.

In those, the ones about employment and job statistics at U.S. airlines gives a good sense of state of industry, and the latest report for this year, from August 2013, tells a lot more than just the numbers, and we try to make them more accessible, below:

  • U.S. airlines had 380,328 workers in August 2013, 2.2% fewer than in August 2012, and this was the 12th consecutive month that full-time employment was below the year-ago number.
  • Couple of reasons for it: First, American Airlines filed for bankruptcy in November 2011 and reduced employees by 7.2 percent year-to-year. Second, larger carriers have experienced increased fuel costs and have reduced contracts with the regional airlines that operate less fuel-efficient regional jets, and the regional airline employment is down 5.1% year-to-year.
  • Delta Air Lines reduced employees by 4.2% and AA by 7.2%. United reported s small uptick of 0.2% more, while US Airways increased employees by 2.8%and Alaska Airlines by 3.1%, all from August 2012.
  • Of the six low-cost carriers, three – Spirit Airlines, Allegiant Airlines and JetBlue Airways – reported an increase in employees from August 2012 while three – Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Virgin America – reported a decline.
  • Among the 13 regional carriers, nine carriers reported reduced employment levels in August compared to the previous year.
  • The five network/large airlines employed 67.3% of the total number of FTEs employed by all scheduled passenger airlines in August, the six low-cost carriers employed 18.2% and the 13 regional carriers employed 13.0%.
  • United employed the most employees (82,082) in August among the network/large airlines, Southwest employed the most employees (45,000) among low-cost airlines, and American Eagle Airlines employed the most employees (11,138) among regional airlines.
  • Over a five year period, the larger network airlines employed 2,769 fewer employees in August 2013 than in August 2009, a 1.1% decrease. American reported the only percentage decline in employment from 2009 to 2013, 12.8%. US Airways reported an increase of 1.8%.
  • Over a five year period for the low cost airlines, Spirit reported the largest percentage increase, 19.9% while Frontier reported a 12.5% decline.

Top 10 Airlines, August 2013, Ranked by Number of Full-Time Employees

Rank Airline Total FTE Employees Carrier Group** Top 10 Airlines August 2012
1 United 82,082 Network United
2 Delta 73,873 Network Delta
3 American 59,140 Network American
4 Southwest 45,000 Low-Cost Southwest
5 US Airways 31,180 Network US Airways
6 JetBlue 12,998 Low-Cost JetBlue
7 American Eagle 11,138 Regional American Eagle
8 Alaska 9,525 Network SkyWest
9 SkyWest 9,427 Regional Alaska
10 ExpressJet 9,022 Regional ExpressJet
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Tags: bts, labor

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