Which Airline Cut the Most Jobs in 2008?

Last Updated Jan 2, 2009 2:51 AM EST

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, for the period between October 2007 to October 2008, it seems as if most of the seven traditional network airlines shed jobs. Not surprising in a difficult economy, yet a few airlines, notably Alaska Airlines, seemed to gain employees. Whether or not job cuts mean companies are better managed or more financially sound is unknown.

Most Jobs Cut

  • United Airlines: -9.9 percent
  • Delta Air Lines: -5.7 percent
  • Northwest Airlines: -5.1 (now part of Delta)
  • U.S. Airways: -5.0
  • American Airlines: -3.9
  • Continental Airlines: -3.8 percent
Most Jobs Gained
  • Virgin America: 81 percent
  • JetBlue Airways: 5.7 percent
  • Southwest Airlines: 5.3 percent
  • Spirit Airlines: 4.7 percent
  • Alaska Airlines: 0.2 percent
The government study is based on approximately 394,300 full-time workers at passenger airlines.

If I had to vote for the airline slashing the most jobs, I would go with Delta. Delta laid off and bought out about 4,000 workers in early 2008, cutting about 7.3 percent of its workforce. The company now has about 45,700 employees down almost a third since its heyday in 2002 when the company had around 66,000 employees. (After taking over Northwest Airlines in October, Delta/Northwest eliminated another 2,500 jobs.)

Add the cryptic executive quotes in December about cutting more jobs as it cuts capacity, Delta could be the airline shedding the most airline jobs in 2008. Let's hope 2009 brings better news.