March Airline Employment Up 1.5 Percent

U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 1.5 percent more workers in March 2011 than they did in March 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported. This is the fourth consecutive increase in full-time equivalent employee (FTE) levels for the scheduled passenger carriers from the same month of the previous year. FTE calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

BTS reported that the March FTE total of 382,796 for the scheduled passenger carriers was 5,535 more than that of March 2010 and the highest employment number since August 2009. This fourth consecutive monthly increase in FTE levels for the scheduled passenger carriers from the same month of the previous year follows declines that began in mid-2008.

Two network airlines, Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, decreased employment from March 2010 to March 2011. Delta Air Lines reported 5.1 percent more FTEs in March 2011 than in March 2010. Continental Airlines, which now includes employees that formerly worked for Continental Micronesia, reported a 0.8 percent increase. 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.

All the low-cost carriers reported more FTEs in March 2011 than in March 2010 except for Frontier Airlines, which reported a 1.3 percent decrease. They are Virgin America Airlines; Spirit Airlines; Allegiant Air; JetBlue Airways; AirTran Airways; and Southwest Airlines.

Regional carriers Lynx Airlines, 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. Carrier Groups: The six network airlines employed 68.0 percent of the scheduled passenger airline total in March, the seven low-cost carriers employed 17.1 percent and the 18 regional carriers employed 13.7 percent.

Top employers by group: Delta employed the most FTEs in March 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.