U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 380,165 workers in September 2013, 1.6 percent fewer than in September 2012, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. September was the 13th consecutive month that full-time equivalent (FTE) employment for U.S. scheduled passenger carriers was below that of the same month of the previous year.
BTS, a part of the Department’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the September 2013 FTE total for scheduled passenger carriers was 6,207 fewer than in September 2012. Scheduled passenger airline categories include network, low-cost, regional and other airlines.
The 1.6 percent decline in FTEs in September 2013 from September 2012 may be due, in part, to two factors. First, American Airlines, the industry’s third largest employer, filed for bankruptcy in November 2011 and reduced FTEs by 7.1 percent year-to-year. Second, network carriers have experienced increased fuel costs and have reduced contracts with the regional airlines that operate less fuel-efficient regional jets. Regional airline employment is down 3.0 percent year-to-year.
The five network airlines that collectively employ two-thirds of the scheduled passenger airline FTEs reported 2.1 percent fewer FTEs in September 2013 than in September 2012, the 14th consecutive month with a decline from the same month of the previous year. Delta Air Lines reduced FTEs by 2.7 percent from September 2012, American by 7.1 percent and United Airlines by 0.1 percent. US Airways increased FTEs by 2.9 percent and Alaska Airlines by 3.0 percent from September 2012. 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.
Of the six low-cost carriers, four - Spirit Airlines, Allegiant Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Virgin America - reported an increase in FTEs from September 2012 while two - Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines - reported a decline. Low-cost airlines operate under a low-cost business model, with infrastructure and aircraft operating costs below the overall industry average.