U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 380,328 workers in August 2013, down 2.2% from a year earlier, as per the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reports. August was the 12th 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.
Scheduled passenger airline categories include network, low-cost, regional and other airlines.
The decline in FTEs 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 7.2% 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 5.1 percent year-to-year.
The five network airlines that collectively employ two-thirds of the scheduled passenger airline FTEs reported 2.5% fewer FTEs in August 2013 than in August 2012, the 13th consecutive month with a decline from the same month of the previous year. Delta Air Lines reduced FTEs by 4.2%, and American Airlines 7.2%. United Airlines increased 0.2% FTEs, US Airways increased FTEs by 2.8% and Alaska Airlines by 3.1% from the same month a year earlier. 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, half i.e. Spirit Airlines, Allegiant Airlines and JetBlue Airways – reported an increase in FTEs while the other half, Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Virgin America, reported a decline. Low-cost airlines operate under a low-cost business model, with infrastructure and aircraft operating costs below the overall industry average.