Airline Data, Analysis & Insight


Comprehensive Network Carriers

There are four comprehensive network carriers in the US. These are American (including US Airways), Delta, United, and Southwest. They are defined as "network" in that they can deliver passengers and goods across the nation, and with the exception of Southwest, across the globe.

Southwest, which is sometimes billed as a "point-to-point" carrier, is included in this category because it has a national system and does indeed depend on connecting traffic for over 30% of its enplanements. Note, however, that Southwest does not outsource any flying to small jet providers. Therefore the data for this carrier is consistent. The operational data reported by other Comprehensive Network Carriers is materially affected by the amount of operational outsourcing at each to lift providers.

American, Delta and United, however represent operations where over 50% of their flights are outsourced to other operators, each of which is a "certificated carrier" and is required to report operational data under its on banner. This then skews some of the data-comparisons between the network carriers.

The network carriers do report total passengers carried under their brand. However, this then negates the comparative value of metrics such as "passengers per pilot" or "ASMs per aircraft" as the passengers and the ASM are combined for the consolidated system, while the numbers of pilots and flight attendants are for the major carrier only.

Because of extensive outsourcing to small lift providers, as well as outsourcing ground handling in many airports, periodic BTS reports on "airline employment" are anecdotal. In this section, we are careful to identify any such comparisons based on payroll employees, to assure that the reader fully understands that the metric is skewed by the amount of outsourcing at each network airline system, and not completely comparable.

Data below are in the process of being updated to current.





US Airways

Prior Airline Comparisons for 2012 & 2013 are under revision

Summary of 2011 - mainline - data for all airlines covered by this website

Summary of 2010 - mainline - data for all airlines covered by this website

Summary of 2009 - mainline - data for all airlines covered by this website

Summary of 2008 - mainline - data for all airlines covered by this website

Summary of 2007 - mainline - data for all airlines covered by this website

Notes and glossary for data tables

(note: DAL and NWA data is primarily from the BTS and may not reconcile with the SEC filings.)

Index of charts showing annual comparisons from 2004-2013


Chart 1 – Total operating revenue

Chart 2 – Operating unit revenue (RASM)

Chart 3 – Revenue per aircraft

Chart 4 – Revenue productivity per employee

Chart 5 – Revenue productivity per flight attendant

Chart 6 – Revenue productivity per pilot

Specific airline employee revenue productivity-

Chart 7 – American employee revenue productivity

Chart 8 – United employee revenue productivity

Chart 9 – Continental employee revenue productivity

Chart 10 – Northwest employee revenue productivity

Chart 11 – Delta employee revenue productivity

Chart 12 – Southwest employee revenue productivity

Chart 13 – USAir employee revenue productivity


Chart 14 – System yield

Chart 15 – Cash & equiv ratio of revenue

Chart 16 – Long term-debt ratio of revenue

Chart 17 – Net debt (LT debt & capital leases minus cash & ST investments)

Chart 18 – Operating margin

Chart 19 – Median stock price

Chart 20 – Operating unit costs ex. fuel (CASM ex. fuel)

Chart 21 – Unit costs without fuel and labor expense

Chart 22 – Unit costs without labor expense

Chart 23 – Labor expense per ASM

Chart 24  Pilot wage/salary cost per unit mile

Chart 25 – Flight Attendant wage/salary cost per unit mile

Chart 26 – Fuel expense ratio of operating revenue

Chart 27 – Wage and benefit ratio of operating revenue

Chart 28 – Pilot wage/salary percentage of operating revenue

Chart 29  Flight Attendant wage/salary percentage of operating revenue

Chart 30 – Wage/salary per employee (average)

Chart 31 – Benefits per employee (average)


Chart 32 – Capacity (ASM's)

Chart 33 – International ratio of ASM capacity

Chart 34 – ASM productivity per aircraft

Chart 35 – ASM productivity per employee

Chart 36 – ASM productivity per flight attendant

Chart 37 – ASM productivity per pilot


Chart 38 – Total employees

Chart 39 – Total flight attendants

Chart 40 – Total pilots

Chart 41 – Employees per aircraft

Chart 42 – Flight attendants per aircraft

Chart 43 – Pilots per aircraft

Chart 44 – Flight attendant ratio of total employees

Chart 45 – Pilot ratio of total employees


Chart 46 – Average passenger fare

Chart 47 – Operating expense per passenger less fuel & labor

Chart 48 – Fuel expense per passenger

Chart 49 – Labor expense (total wage & benefit) per passenger

Chart 50 – Management expense per passenger

Chart 51 – Pilot expense per passenger

Chart 52 – Flight Attendant expense per passenger

Chart 53 – Pilot wage/salary percentage of average passenger fare

Chart 54 – Management wage/salary percentage of average passenger fare

Chart 55 – Flight Attendant wage/salary percentage of average passenger fare

 Miscellaneous ratios-

Chart 56 – Revenue miles per passenger

Chart 57 – Passenger per employee productivity

Chart 58 – Passenger per flight attendant productivity

Chart 59 – Load factor (percentage of seats sold)

Chart 60 – Aircraft block hours (daily average)

Chart 61 – Aircraft departures (daily average)

Chart 62 – Employee wage/salary (average)

Chart 63 – Pilot wage/salary (average)

Chart 64 – Flight Attendant wage/salary (average)

Notes and terms 



Some data has been excluded due to bankruptcy accounting and/or having irrelevant impact for comparison.


Some calculations use cumulative data with a year ending divisor which may cause a distortion of the conclusion.


US Airways includes America West


SEC & BTS data for wage/benefits may not be reported the same.


(SEC) US Security and Exchange Commission


(BTS) Bureau of Transportation Statistics


Note: There are differences between how airlines categorize data for BTS & SEC reports.


[1] Total revenue excludes recognized affiliate passenger revenue.


[2] Operating expense excludes recognized affiliate expenses.


[3] Does not include benefit expense.


[4] Recognized LT debt plus Cap leases less current maturities.


[5] Operating income (loss) excludes known affiliate revenue and expenses.


[6] Net profit (loss) is from SEC and includes affiliate data.


[7] Estimated median stock price for the time period noted.


[8] Active full time equivalent employees from BTS data. May be estimated when data is not available.


[9] Operating margin excludes recognized affiliate income and expense.


[10] Avg passenger fare is calculated from passenger revenue/passenger count.


[11] Operating income (loss) per passenger is from average one way fare and does not include affiliate impact.


[12] Southwest categorizes management personnel and salaries differently from other airlines.


[13] There is no standard criteria for what "positions" are considered as "General Management".


[14] Block hours per pilot is adjusted to 3 pilots/wide body aircraft and 2 pilots for all other aircraft.


[15] Due to UAL's bankruptcy from Dec 2002 to Feb 2006. UAL debt for 2002 is as of 9/30/2002.


[16] Net Debt is LT Debt & Capital leases minus cash & ST investments.


[20] Delta reports consolidated mainline and affiliate data for several categories. As such, airline to airline comparisons may not be valid.

[c] Metric may not be reported. Calculated from other reported data.



Glossary of Terms-


ASM— Available Seat Mile. A measure of capacity. ASM’s equal the total number of seats available for transporting passengers during a reporting period multiplied by the total number of miles flown during that period.


RPM— Revenue Passenger Mile. One revenue-paying passenger transported one mile. RPM's equal the number of revenue passengers during a reporting period multiplied by the number of miles flown by those passengers during that period, RPM’s are also referred to as “traffic”.


Yield— The amount of passenger revenue earned per RPM during a reporting period.


RASM— Operating Revenue per ASM. The amount of operating revenue earned per ASM during a reporting period. RASM is also referred to as “unit revenue.”


PRASM— Passenger Revenue per ASM. The amount of passenger revenue earned per ASM during a reporting period. Passenger RASM is also referred to as “unit revenue.”


CASM— (Operating) Cost per Available Seat Mile. The amount of operating cost incurred per ASM during a reporting period, also referred to as “unit cost”.


LF-- Passenger Load Factor — A measure of utilized available seating capacity calculated by dividing RPMs by ASM’s for a reporting period.


Average fare-- Represents the average one-way fare paid per flight segment by a revenue passenger


O/W -- One way


Disclaimer: Data source includes SEC, BTS, labor web sites & Corporate Reports. Except where noted, recognized affiliate revenue and expenses were removed to provide mainline comparisons. All data is subject to unintentional errors. For more equivalent comparisons, some UAL, NWA & DAL data immediately pre & post bankruptcy was used.

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