Holding steady- Airline employment unchanged in 2010

February 15, 2011

-Logan Times Staff Report

Job hunting for work at American airlines based in American airports did not allow for many new employment opportunities between 2009 and 2010, according to statistics recently released by the US Department of Transportation.

In fact, airline employment was unchanged.

Prior to November, 2010, there were 28 consecutive months of cuts in full-time employee (FTE) levels for the scheduled passenger carriers from the same month of the previous year.

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

Scheduled passenger carriers across the nation employed a total of 379,335 men and women in 2010 – only 23 less than in 2009 – as reported by the USDT on February 1.

In addition,

Five network airlines – American Airlines, US Airways, Alaska Airlines, Continental Airlines and United Airlines – decreased employment from November 2009 to November 2010.

The sixth network carrier, Delta Air Lines, after completing its merger with Northwest Airlines, is reporting combined employment numbers in 2010 and reported 1.4 percent more FTEs in November 2010 than the combined totals of both carriers for November 2009.

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. All seven low-cost carriers reported more FTEs in November 2010 than in November 2009. They are Virgin America Airlines; Frontier Airlines; Spirit Airlines; Allegiant Air; JetBlue Airways; AirTran Airways; and Southwest Airlines.

The six network airlines employed 256,432 FTEs in November, 67.6 percent of the passenger airline total, while seven low-cost carriers employed 17.0 percent and 18 regional carriers employed 13.9 percent.

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

Beginning with November 2007 data, US Airways’ numbers are combined with numbers for America West Airlines in the network category. For previous months, America West’s numbers were included with the low-cost airlines.

About the only gains in employment were recorded by low-cost airlines. Low-cost airline FTEs were up 3.2 percent in November 2010 from November 2009.

All seven low-cost airlines reported year-to-year increases: Virgin America, 24.0 percent; Frontier, 14.2 percent; Spirit, 12.4 percent; Allegiant, 4.7 percent; JetBlue, 4.0 percent; AirTran, 0.9 percent and Southwest, 0.7 percent. The six low-cost carriers reporting employment data in both 2006 and 2010 employed 10.2 percent more FTEs in November 2010 than in November  2009.