by Mark Albert
WASHINGTON (TVR) – Riding the tailwind of an improving economy, US airlines are employing more people than since just before the Great Recession, boosting employment to an eight-year high.
The latest figures from the US Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics show December’s airline full-time equivalent employment rose to 416,337 workers, a 3.7% rise and the most since March 2008.
It was the 38th straight month of industry hiring gains, the BTS said.
The strong showing came primarily from low-cost air carriers. Combined, Allegiant Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and Virgin America accelerated hiring by 9.5% in December, compared to December 2015. Despite that solid growth, it was actually the smallest increase since March of 2016; April 2016-November 2016 increases over the prior year all topped 10%.
Legacy carriers, which account for two-thirds of the airline industry’s employment, saw softer gains of 2.4% for the same period.
The American Airlines payroll was the largest, at just under 100,000 full-time equivalents. Southwest Airlines, with 53,536 FTEs, employed the most among the low-cast carriers.