Airlines Employing More Full Time Staff


(c) 2011 U.S. Department of Transportation

U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 2.1 percent more workers in May 2011 than they did in May 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reports. This is the sixth consecutive increase in full-time equivalent employee (FTE) levels for the scheduled passenger carriers from the same month of the previous year and the largest year-to-year increase since February 2008.  FTE calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the May FTE total of 384,974 for the scheduled passenger carriers was 8,017 more than that of May 2010 and the highest employment number since July 2009. This sixth consecutive monthly increase in FTE levels for the scheduled passenger carriers from the same month of the previous year follows decline that began in July 2008.

Of the network airlines, only Alaska Airlines decreased employment from May 2010 to May 2011. Delta Air Lines reported 4.9 percent more FTEs in May 2011 than in May 2010, the largest increase among network carriers. Continental Airlines, which now includes employees that formerly worked for Continental Micronesia, followed Delta with a 2.1 percent increase. Network airlines operate a significant portion of flights using at least one hub where connections are made for flights to down-line destinations or spoke cities.

All the low-cost carriers reported more FTEs in May 2011 than in May 2010 except for Allegiant Air, which reported a 6.0 percent decrease. The low-cost carriers with more reported FTEs are Virgin America Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, AirTran Airways and Southwest Airlines.

Among the regional carriers, ExpressJet Airlines, Mesa Airlines, Horizon Air, Mesaba Airlines, Comair and Compass Airlines reported reduced employment levels compared to last year. Scheduled passenger airline categories include network, low-cost, regional and other airlines.

The six network airlines employed 67.8 percent of the scheduled passenger airline total in May, the seven low-cost carriers employed 17.3 percent and the 18 regional carriers employed 13.7 percent.

Delta employed the most FTEs in May among the network airlines, Southwest employed the most FTEs among low-cost airlines, and American Eagle Airlines employed the most FTEs among regional airlines. Six of the top 10 employers in the industry are network airlines.


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