DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
U.S. airlines' work force dipped 0.4% in October from a year earlier on a full-time equivalent basis, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
October's decrease is the 28th consecutive month of year-on-year declines for work force levels, but the rate of decline has been abating since the middle of last year. On Wednesday the department reported total unadjusted employment rose 0.2% on the year in October, the first such growth since June 2008.
Airlines have enjoyed a bounce this year as business travelers and consumers return to the skies, but the recovery has yet to translate into net hiring. Carriers struggled last year as the downturn battered demand, forcing them to take steps to cut costs, including layoffs.
Total full-time equivalent employees numbered 378,112 in October, down from a year earlier but up from September's 377,676, according to the department's Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Full-time equivalent calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.
Network carriers' work force declined 1.2%. Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) was again the only of the six network carriers to increase employment, with 56% more workers compared with a year ago following its merger with Northwest. Alaska Air Group Inc. (ALK) had the largest decline, a 3.6% drop.
Discount carriers' employment was up 3% as Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV) had 0.7% more workers and AirTran Holdings Inc. (AAI), which it plans to acquire, saw its work force edge up 0.2%. Rival JetBlue Airways Corp.'s (JBLU) work rolls grew 4.1%.
Regional airlines employed 0.5% more workers.
-By Matt Jarzemsky, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2240; firstname.lastname@example.org