Employment down again for US carriers

US scheduled airline employment dropped 3.3% in Nov-2009 from the year-ago period, the 17th consecutive decline in full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) from the same month in the previous year, according to the Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). Full-time employment for the US scheduled carrier totaled 379,000, a loss of 12,800 employees and the lowest total for any month since 1993.

Network carriers: United employee numbers down 6%, American down 5%

With its merger, Delta was the only carrier to increase employment as the other six legacies dropped their employment numbers year-on-year. Low-cost carriers followed he legacies with Southwest, Spirit and Frontier ariliens all reporting fewer employees in November and regionals also felt the impact of the recession with declines reported by American Eagle Airlines, SkyWest Airlines, ExpressJet Airlines, Comair, Atlantic Southeast Airlines, Pinnacle Airlines, Horizon Air, Mesa Airlines, Air Wisconsin Airlines, Mesaba Airlines, PSA Airlines and Colgan Airlines also reported reduced employment levels compared to last year.

American Airlines employed the most FTEs in November among the network airlines, Southwest employed the most FTEs among low-cost airlines, and American Eagle employed the most FTEs among regional airlines. Seven of the top 10 employers in the industry are network airlines.

The seven network airlines employed 258,100 FTEs in November, 68.0% of the passenger airline total, a decline of 2.7%, the 15th consecutive monthly decline, shedding 7,100 fewer FTEs. United Airlines was down 6.2 percent; American, 5.2 percent; Northwest, 5.2 percent; US Airways, 3.9 percent; and Continental Airlines, 3.9 percent; and Alaska Airlines, 3.7 percent. Delta increased FTEs by 8.5 percent.

The network carrier declines has been a continuing trend since Nov-2005, shedding 14.300 FTEs, despite the fact that America West (formerly an LCC) did not combine its numbers in government reporting until Oct-2007

United also had the largest percentage decline (18.4%)  in FTE employment or 9,900 FTEs. It was followed by Northwest at 17.3%, American, down 11.3%, Delta, down 1.6%. Alaska, Continental and AmericaWest/US Airways experienced increases over the four-year perios at 3.1%, 1.2% and 48.3%, respectively.

Low-Cost Airlines: full time employee numbers drop for first time in 5 months

Low-cost carriers employed 16.5% of industry employees as FTEs decreased 0.1% in November from Nov-2008. The decline reversed five months of increases. Four low-cost airlines reported year-to-year increases: Allegiant Air, 15.4%; Virgin America, 12.9%; AirTran Airways, 6.5%; and JetBlue Airways, 4.3%.  Southwest, Spirit and Frontier reported year-to-year FTE decreases.

The six low-cost carriers reporting employment data in both 2005 and 2009 employed 15.0% more FTEs in Nov-2009 than in November 2005.  Allegiant reported the largest percentage increase, up 178.3%. Spirit reported the only four-year decrease within the low-cost group, down 8.5%.

Regional Airlines: 15th consecutive month of declines

Regional carriers employed 14.0 percent of industry FTEs. In the 15th consecutive month of declines, regionals reported FTEs were down 7.5% in Nov-2010 compared to the year-ago period.

The decline of Delta’s Cincinnati hub was a factor in the 49.7% drop in Comair FTEs and despite its effort to grow back from the Northwest bankruptcy, Mesaba FTEs were also down by a whopping 35.8%. On the other hand, Republic Airways HoldingsRepublic Airlines reported a huge, 101.3% increase in the number of employees reflecting its increased mandate after RJET’s deals with Midwest and Frontier airlines. GoJet was also up at 43.6%. Regional carrier FTEs declined 6.4% from November 2005 to November 2009.  

The 15 regional carriers reporting employment data in both 2005 and 2009 employed 8.7% fewer FTEs in Nov-2009 than in November 2005.  Comair reported the largest percentage decline, down 59.4%, followed by PSA, down 39.9%, and Atlantic Southeast, down 35.6%. Republic Airlines reported the biggest four-year gain, 1440.3 percent, followed by GoJet at 154.5 percent and Shuttle America at 67.6 percent with its increased mandate at Mokulele.

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