BTS Monthly Employment Data for U.S. Passenger Airlines

Comprehensive monthly employment data for U.S. passenger airlines (that operate at least one aircraft with the capacity to carry combined passengers, cargo and fuel of 18,000 pounds) is available from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). Most of the data is stated in terms of full-time equivalent employees (FTEs), wherein two part-time employees compose one FTE. BTS.gov also allows users to search passenger and cargo airline employment data by month. Some additional data is available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which has a special report on Air Transportation. The Federal Aviation Administration collects information on active pilots by type of certificate in its U.S. Civil Airmen Statistics. According to Table 30 of its annual FAA Aerospace Forecasts, there are more than 142,000 active airline transport pilots in the United States.

U.S. Scheduled Passenger Airline Full-Time Equivalents (Thousands)​ ​

1990​

454.8​

1991​

443.0​

1992​

447.8​

1993​

443.6​

1994​

434.5​

1995​

431.6​

1996​

441.0​

1997​

432.5​

1998​

446.5​

1999​

479.7​

2000​

520.6​

2001​

520.1​

2002​

471.6​

2003​

441.2​

2004​

438.7​

2005​

421.2​

2006​

404.3​

2007​

413.1​

2008​

407.6​

2009​

385.9​

2010​

378.1​

2011

386.0​

Source: BTS Table 3

In 2011, according to Unionstats.com, an estimated 44.3% of U.S. air transportation (broadly defined via Census Industry Code 6070) workers were covered by collective bargaining agreements, versus 7.6% of all U.S. private sector employees. The Railway Labor Act, the comprehensive statutory framework for the resolution of labor-management disputes in the airline and railroad industries, was drafted by labor and management and passed by Congress in 1926 without amendment. It provided for mandatory mediation, voluntary arbitration in contract negotiations, and potential Presidential Emergency Boards to enhance dispute resolution. Key 1934 amendments established the current three-member structure of the National Mediation Board (NMB) and authorized it to resolve employee-representation disputes.

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Annually, commercial aviation helps drive $1.5 trillion in U.S. economic activity and more than 10 million U.S. jobs. U.S. airlines fly 2.3 million passengers and more than 55,000 tons of cargo each day. Airlines for America (A4A) advocates on behalf of the American airline industry as a model of safety, customer service and environmental responsibility and as the indispensable network that drives our nation’s economy and global competitiveness.

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