Airline Industry Still Lacks Diversity

The U.S. airline industry still lacks diversity and continues to face issues boosting minority representation among its workforce. Projected hirings are not expected to improve the situation and the percentage of minority pilots is decreasing.

Projections from a U.S. Department of Transportation report indicate that the airline industry will hire more than 317,000 employees by 2022, but the growth isn’t expected to improve the low representation of women and non-white men.

Women continue to be unrepresented in the airline industry, accounting for just 34 percent of the workforce, compared with 47 percent in all U.S. industries combined.

The lack of minority pilots has become a particularly significant problem. In 2012, U.S. Department of Labor statistics indicated that 93 percent of airline pilots and flight engineers were white, 2.7 percent were black or African American, and 2.5 percent were Asian. Minority representation slipped in 2014 to 97 percent white, 2 percent black or African American, and 1 percent Asian. Some 5 percent identified their ethnicity as Hispanic or Latino in 2012, compared with 3 percent in 2014.

The report also shows that the airline industry still lacks diversity, compared to all U.S. industries in hiring younger workers. Some 53 percent of airline employees are 45 and older, compared with 44 percent for all U.S. industries. The full breakdown for the airline industry is under 25, 6 percent; 25 to 44, 41 percent; 45 to 54, 32 percent; 55 to 64, 18 percent; and 65 and over, 3 percent.

The U.S. Department of Labor statistics project the number of openings and median annual wages for airline occupations during the next 10 years. They are:

Flight attendants: 96,205/$37,240
Airline pilots, co-pilots and flight engineers: 57,896/$113,877
Aircraft mechanics and service technicians: 56,968/$60,861
Laborers and freight, stock and material movers: 49,928/$30,493
Other transport workers: 26,841/$39,312
Air traffic controllers: 24,416/$121,280
Customer service representatives: 20,557/$29,494
Commercial pilots: 18,336/$72,386
Baggage porters and bellhops: 15,699/$20,634
Vehicle and equipment cleaners: 9,430/$25,771

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