U.S. Airlines Cut Employees

Airline employment has dropped from last summer because of job cuts at American Airlines and regional carriers that use smaller planes.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said Tuesday that airlines employed the equivalent of 381,441 workers in June, down 2.4% from the same month last year. It's the 10th straight month of decline compared with a year earlier.

The DOT said that American cut about 5,400 jobs, or 8.4% of its workforce, as it slashed costs during bankruptcy. American had the equivalent of 59,163 full-time workers in June.

American parent AMR Corp., which is trying to merge with US Airways, has recently returned to profitability. This week it reported a record one-month adjusted profit of $352 million for July. The airline plans to hire 1,500 entry-level flight attendants to replace some of the roughly 2,200 experienced ones who took severance offers to leave last year.

While American cut jobs, its American Eagle regional subsidiary added about 1,300 jobs or 13.5%. But most regional carriers, which contract with bigger airlines to operate short-haul flights under brands such as United Express and Delta Connection, reduced jobs as high fuel costs made many 50-seat jets too expensive to fly.

Regional airlines cut jobs by 4.4% from last year. ExpressJet, Pinnacle, Horizon Air and Mesa all cut jobs; SkyWest added fewer than two dozen.

A few low-cost airlines added jobs, including Spirit, Allegiant and JetBlue, but they have small workforces. Spirit grew 22.7% to 3,400 full-time jobs. The largest low-cost carrier, Southwest Airlines cut 2% to 45,216.

United, the world's largest airline, had the equivalent of 82,498 full-time workers in June, down 0.1% in 12 months. No. 2 Delta had 82,498 employees, down 3.9%.

To calculate airline employment, the Transportation Department counts two part-time jobs as one full-time position.

The 10 largest U.S. airlines by full-time-equivalent employees, and their one-year change in job numbers:

  • United Airlines, 82,498, down 0.1%.
  • Delta Air Lines, 74,546, down 3.9%.
  • American Airlines, 59,163, down 8.4%.
  • Southwest Airlines, 45,216, down 2%.
  • US Airways, 31,020, up 2.1%.
  • JetBlue Airways, 13,029, up 2.7%.
  • American Eagle, 11,166, up 13.5%.
  • Alaska Airlines, 9,564, up 3.7%.
  • SkyWest Airlines, 9,422, up 0.2%.
  • ExpressJet, 8,998, down 4.5%.

American and American Eagle are both owned by AMR Corp. Southwest figures include AirTran Airways subsidiary. ExpressJet is a SkyWest subsidiary.

All totals are for June 2013 compared with June 2012.

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