The 21 U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 2.3% more workers in August 2019 than in August 2018:

  • August’s 449,550 full-time equivalents (FTEs) was the down from the previous month’s employment total July 2019 (449,907 FTEs) but was the highest FTE total for the month of August since 2002 (472,168 FTEs).
  • August was the 70th consecutive month that U.S. scheduled passenger airline FTEs exceeded the same month of the previous year.

Employees at U.S. Scheduled Passenger Airlines Month of August, 1990-2019 (Full-Time Equivalents)Notes: 

FTE calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.


Bureau of Transportation Statistics

U.S. airline employment reports are filed monthly with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. See the tables that accompany this release on the BTS website for detailed data since 2015 (Tables 1-15) and industry summary data since 1990.

All 21 scheduled service passenger airlines

  • 449,550 FTEs
  • Up 2.3% (9,935 FTEs) over August 2018 (439,615 FTEs)
  • Up 13.2% (52,543 FTEs) over August 2015 (397,007 FTEs)

Four network airlines

  • 287,947 FTEs, 64.1% of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
  • Up 1.0% (2,802 FTEs) from August 2018 (285,145 FTEs)
  • Up 8.4% (22,380 FTEs) over August 2015 (265,567 FTEs)

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

  • 96,085 FTEs, 21.4% of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
  • Up 4.8% (4,382 FTEs) over August 2018 (91,703 FTEs)
  • Up 27.2% (20,536 FTEs) over August 2015 (75,549 FTEs)  

Low-cost airlines operate under a low-cost business model, with infrastructure and aircraft operating costs below the overall industry average.

10 regional airlines

  • 57,380 FTEs, 12.8% of total scheduled passenger airline FTEs
  • Up 4.7% (2,591 FTEs) over August 2018 (54,789 FTEs)
  • Up 16.3% (8,060 FTEs) over August 2015 (49,320 FTEs)

Regional carriers typically provide service from small cities, using primarily regional jets to support the network carriers’ hub and spoke systems.

Top Employers by Group

  • Network: American    101,019 FTEs
  • Low-Cost: Southwest    60,171 FTEs
  • Regional: SkyWest        15,158 FTEs

Two other airlines

Other carriers generally operate within specific niche markets. They are: Hawaiian Airlines and Sun Country Airlines.

Logos, product and company names mentioned are the property of their respective owners.

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