The last few years have been challenging for those employed in commercial aviation in the U.S. as a wave of furloughs and layoffs in the industry slashed 90,000 jobs by the end of 2020. As the pandemic almost brought aviation to a halt, the airlines lobbied for and received a $25 billion bailout from the federal government, partially made up of loans. Nonetheless, COVID-19 was a painful blow to the industry, driving the lowest level of airline employment in decades.
There was some hope when millions of Americans started flying again during the summer and fall of 2021. During this time, more Americans were getting vaccinated and a desire to return to normalcy spurred many to plan trips again. However, travelers were also waving goodbye to pandemic-induced, nearly empty cheap flights and highly flexible booking options. Travel coming back in full swing resulted in long security lines, followed by frustrated passengers.
Since airlines and the Transportation Safety Administration had laid off many employees over the previous months, the industry faced airport staff shortages, and airlines often couldn’t keep up with renewed passenger demand. When more airline employees returned to work, flight attendants faced erratic schedules and sometimes, reduced flying hours. The current pilot shortage has been exacerbated by stalled training and hiring, after a slew of airlines offered pilots early retirement to cut labor costs.
Today the aviation industry appears to be experiencing a slow recovery. As of Feb. 2022, U.S. airlines serviced 613,702 flights—up from 407,441 flights in Feb. 2021. Nearly 55 million passengers took a flight in Feb. 2022, more than double the number in Feb. 2021. Delta Airlines returned to profitability in March 2022.
Bounce collected 2030 employment projections data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and compared it to 2021 Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics data to see how the aviation industry looks today across various occupations.