March 2008 Passenger Airline Employment Up 1.6 Percent from March 2007

American Airlines employed the most full-time employees in March among the network carriers, Southwest Airlines employed the most among low-cost carriers, and SkyWest employed the most among regional carriers.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008 - U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 1.6 percent more workers in March 2008 than in March 2007, the 14th consecutive increase in full-time equivalent employee (FTE) levels for the scheduled passenger carriers from the same month of the previous year, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today (Table 2). FTE calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

The seven network carriers except for American Airlines all added FTEs from March 2007 to March 2008 (Table 9). All of the low-cost carriers (Table 12), and regional carriers American Eagle Airlines, SkyWest Airlines, ExpressJet Airlines, Horizon Air, Pinnacle Airlines, Mesaba Airlines, Executive Airlines, Trans States Airlines, Shuttle America and GoJet Airlines (Table 15) increased their FTEs compared to last year.

Scheduled passenger airlines include network, low-cost, regional and other airlines. Many regional carriers were not required to report employment numbers before 2003, so year-to-year comparisons involving regional carriers, or the total industry, are not available for the years before 2003.

The seven network carriers employed 283,917 FTEs in March, 68.5 percent of the passenger airline total, while low-cost carriers employed 14.7 percent and regional carriers employed 14.5 percent (Table 4).

American Airlines employed the most FTEs in March among the network carriers, Southwest Airlines employed the most among low-cost carriers, and SkyWest employed the most among regional carriers. Seven of the top 10 employers in the industry are network carriers (Table 6).

America West Airlines and US Airways now operate under a single certificate. Joint reporting began with October 2007 data. US Airways' employment numbers were included with the network airlines prior to October 2007 while America West's numbers were included with the low-cost airlines. Beginning with October 2007, US Airways' numbers are combined with America West Airlines' numbers in the network category. The combined carrier's numbers were included in the low-cost category for October 2007 through February 2008 in the releases for those months. The numbers for those months have been revised beginning with the March 2008 release to include the combined carrier's numbers in the network category for all months. The revision was due to a BTS recalculation based on the airline's fourth quarter financial report released May 19.

The merged airline, which is listed in the network category, reported 32,816 FTEs for March 2008. In March 2007, US Airways reported 19,682 FTEs in the network category and America West reported 12,339 FTEs in the low-cost category for a total of 32,021.

Network Airlines

FTEs at the seven network carriers increased 7.5 percent in March 2008 compared to March 2007, the 11th consecutive monthly gain from the same month of the previous year. Prior to an increase in May, the network group had reduced FTEs from the previous year every month since September 2001 (Table 7).

All the network carriers except for American Airlines increased FTEs from March 2007 to March 2008. The year-to-year increases were US Airways 66.7 percent, Delta Air Lines 7.1 percent, Alaska Airlines 5.7 percent, Continental Airlines 4.0 percent, Northwest Airlines 2.3 percent and United Airlines 1.7 percent. American's year-to-year employment decline was 0.1 percent (Table 9).

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