The 20 U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 0.4% fewer full-time equivalents (FTEs) in mid-November 2020 than in mid-October 2020:Mid-November’s total number of FTEs (366,750) was down 1,412 from mid-October 2020 (368,162 FTEs) and down 93,283 from mid-March 2020 (460,033). November was the lowest FTE total for any month in Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) records dating from January 1990. The previous low was April 2010 (376,663). Mid-November FTEs were down over 87,500, a 19.3% drop from mid-November 2019 (454,283).
Scheduled passenger airlines employ 59% of the total airline industry FTEs, down from 66% in March 2020. Total industry FTEs, released on Jan. 7, rose 3,861 FTEs (0.6%) from October to November. Total industry includes cargo and charter.
Regulations require U.S. airlines to report employment numbers for employees who worked or received pay for any part of the pay period(s) ending nearest the 15th day of the month. U.S. airline employment reports are filed monthly with the BTS. See the tables that accompany this release on the BTS website for detailed data since 2015 (Tables 1-15) and industry summary monthly data since 1990. Airlines receiving funds under the CARES Act were prohibited from layoffs or furloughs until Sept. 30.
Employees at U.S. Scheduled Passenger Airlines Month of November, 1990-2020 (Full-Time Equivalents)
FTE calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.
All 20 scheduled service passenger airlines (mid-November)366,750 FTEs Down 19.3% (87,533) from November 2019 (454,283) Down 11.8% (49,296) from November 2016 (416,046)
Four network airlines (mid-November)217,973 FTEs, 59.4% of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs Down 24.4% (70,174) from November 2019 (288,147) Down 20.0% (54,374) from November 2016 (272,347) Up 0.2% (457) from mid-October 2020 (217,516) Down 25.1% (73,236) from mid-March 2020 (291,209)
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. Note that beginning with January 2018 data, Virgin America’s numbers are included with Alaska Airlines in the network category.
Five low-cost airlines (mid-November)91,905 FTEs, 25.1% of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs Down 5.8% (5,618) from November 2019 (97,523) Up 7.6% (6,466) from November 2016 (85,439) Down 0.3% (248) from mid-October 2020 (92,153) Down 6.7% (6,626) from mid-March 2020 (98,531)
Low-cost airlines operate under a low-cost business model, with infrastructure and aircraft operating costs below the overall industry average.
8 regional airlines (mid-November)49,805 FTEs, 13.6% of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs Down 17.5% (10,579) from November 2019 (60,384) Down 1.6% (820) from November 2016 (50,625) Down 1.0% (488) from mid-October 2020 (50,293) Down 18.4% (11,198) from mid-March 2020 (61,003)
Regional carriers typically provide service from small cities, using primarily regional jets to support the network carriers’ hub and spoke systems.
Top Employers by Scheduled Passenger Airline GroupNetwork: American 84,568 FTEs Low-cost: Southwest 56,900 FTEs Regional: SkyWest 16,706 FTEs
Four other airlines
Other carriers generally operate within specific niche markets. They are: Hawaiian Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, Silver Airlines and Eastern Airlines.
Airlines that operate at least one aircraft that has more than 60 seats or the capacity to carry a payload of passengers, cargo and fuel weighing more than 18,000 pounds must report monthly employment statistics.
Data are compiled from monthly reports filed with BTS by commercial air carriers as of Jan. 6.
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