This website uses cookies to collect usage information in order to offer a better browsing experience. By browsing this site or by clicking on the "ACCEPT COOKIES" button you accept our Cookie Policy.

Airlines Are Finally Adding Jobs — But Will Enough Passengers Want to Fly?

Job listings for major U.S. carriers showed a sustained rise over the past few months, despite billions in losses.

Airlines have a long way to go to climb out of the crater left by the pandemic, and the first three months of 2021 didn’t do much to improve the situation.

Three of the largest U.S. carriers, American Airlines, Delta and United, all reported heavy losses for the first quarter. Ultra-low-fare carrier Spirit was also in the red, while Southwest was the only major carrier to turn a profit, mostly because of government assistance.

Yet there is hope on the horizon, or so company executives have stressed in conference calls with investors this week. Some airlines are seeing more bookings. American and JetBlue are adding flights. Delta is ordering more new planes, positioning itself to help customers “reclaim the joy of travel,” an executive stated.

Airlines are also trying to power a turnaround by increasing staffing. While American disclosed that it is bringing back pilots that were “recalled” during the pandemic and adding more, data from Thinknum shows that several other major airlines are also in a sustained hiring mode.

Job listings at United, Southwest, JetBlue and Spirit all marched upward through April after prolonged hiring freezes last year, according to Thinknum data. American was a little ahead of the curve in terms of hiring, adding more jobs starting in August 2020 and hitting a peak on March 17 with 111 job listings.

Still, it continued to lead the pack for job openings on April 19. On that day, American had 81 job listings posted, while United had 61, JetBlue had 67, Spirit had 65 and Southwest had 17.

airline job listings

This trend shows cautious optimism after the coronavirus all but crushed the travel industry last year. After lockdowns and travel restrictions were imposed around the world starting in early 2020, airlines took massive hits, laying off thousands of employees. Hiring for new positions was also more or less non-existent across most major airlines from April 2020 through July 2020, according to Thinknum.

Meanwhile, the number of Apple app store ratings for Alaska Airlines, United and Southwest have slightly increased through April, indicating more use by customers, according to Thinknum data. Spirit, which recently introduced a redesigned app, saw a massive surge in ratings.

airline app store ratings

U.S. airlines collectively lost about $35 billion in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, and it lost billions more in the first quarter.

Delta last week reported a net loss of about $1.2 billion for the first three months of the year, while this past week American disclosed a first-quarter loss of $1.3 billion, United reported a loss of $1.4 billion, and Spirit reported a loss of $112.3 million. Southwest yesterday reported quarterly profits of $116 million, although it would have suffered a loss of about $1 billion if not for an offset for salaries, wages and benefits made available under the CARES Act. Other airlines also got help from the CARES Act, but it wasn’t enough of a boost to get them into the black.

JetBlue is expected to release its results for the quarter on Tuesday.

Airline executives have generally pointed to March as a possible turning point for the market, saying that they’ve seen demand start to improve. With vaccines becoming more widespread and wanderlust setting in, bookings have started to return to something close to 2019, executives told investors in conference calls. With demand returning, bargains on ticket prices may also start to disappear.

“While acknowledging that the recovery is still in progress and may not be linear, we continue to believe we will be among the first U.S. carriers to reach sustained profitability,” Spirit President and CEO Ted Christie said in a statement.

All that said, airlines are still likely to face challenges, as new coronavirus variants spread and the pandemic continues to ravage parts of the globe. On Thursday, the U.S. State Department expanded its “Do Not Travel” list to 115 countries, up from 33 countries last week, according to NPR. The advisories were largely due to “a very high level of COVID-19.”

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.

originally Posted on April 23, 2021 – Airlines Are Finally Adding Jobs — But Will Enough Passengers Want to Fly?

Disclosure: Interactive Brokers

Information posted on IBKR Traders’ Insight that is provided by third-parties and not by Interactive Brokers does NOT constitute a recommendation by Interactive Brokers that you should contract for the services of that third party. Third-party participants who contribute to IBKR Traders’ Insight are independent of Interactive Brokers and Interactive Brokers does not make any representations or warranties concerning the services offered, their past or future performance, or the accuracy of the information provided by the third party. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

This material is from The Business of Business - Thinknum Media and is being posted with permission from The Business of Business - Thinknum Media. The views expressed in this material are solely those of the author and/or The Business of Business - Thinknum Media and IBKR is not endorsing or recommending any investment or trading discussed in the material. This material is not and should not be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any security. To the extent that this material discusses general market activity, industry or sector trends or other broad based economic or political conditions, it should not be construed as research or investment advice. To the extent that it includes references to specific securities, commodities, currencies, or other instruments, those references do not constitute a recommendation to buy, sell or hold such security. This material does not and is not intended to take into account the particular financial conditions, investment objectives or requirements of individual customers. Before acting on this material, you should consider whether it is suitable for your particular circumstances and, as necessary, seek professional advice.

In accordance with EU regulation: The statements in this document shall not be considered as an objective or independent explanation of the matters. Please note that this document (a) has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research, and (b) is not subject to any prohibition on dealing ahead of the dissemination or publication of investment research.

Any trading symbols displayed are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended to portray recommendations.

trading top