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Airlines cut yet more workers

U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 3.3 percent fewer workers in Dec. 2009 than in Dec. 2008, the 18th consecutive decrease in full-time equivalent employee (FTE) levels for the scheduled passenger carriers from the same month of the previous year, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reports.

BTS said that the December FTE total of 379,100 for the scheduled passenger carriers was 12,900 below Dec. 2008 and the lowest total for any month since 1993.

Six of the seven network airlines decreased employment from Dec. 2008 to Dec. 2009. Delta Air Lines, which is completing its merger with Northwest Airlines, was the lone network carrier to increase employment. 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.

Low-cost carriers Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines also reported decreases from Dec. 2008. Regional carriers American Eagle Airlines, SkyWest 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.

The seven network airlines employed 258,100 FTEs in December, 68.1 percent of the passenger airline total, while low-cost carriers employed 16.5 percent and regional carriers employed 13.9 percent.

American Airlines employed the most FTEs in December 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.

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