Continental Airlines announces first quarter loss

CONTINENTAL Airlines has reported a first quarter 2009 net loss of US$136 million. The quarter’s results were heavily affected by significant declines in cargo but also passenger traffic as many business travellers curtailed travel or purchased lower yield economy tickets due to the weakened economy.

Cargo revenue for the first quarter fell 30.3 per cent ($37 million) compared to the same period 2008, due to reduced freight volume and lower pricing.

“My co-workers did a great job of working together to meet continued challenges during a tough quarter,” said Larry Kellner, Continental’s chairman and chief executive officer. “They displayed resilience and remained focused on running a solid operation.”

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has tentatively approved the application for Continental to join the existing antitrust-immunized alliance between United Airlines and eight other Star Alliance member carriers.

“We are excited to be joining Star Alliance, which will bring unparalleled benefits to our customers worldwide, and growth opportunities for Continental and its employees,” said Jeff Smisek, president and chief operating officer. “We look forward to working with our Star partners, as we create new and substantial competition with other global alliances.”

Continental is currently scheduled to take delivery of nine Boeing 737 aircraft in the remaining nine months of 2009. The company has also agreed to lease four Boeing 757-300 aircraft from Boeing Capital Corporation that are expected to be placed into service in the first half of 2010. By the end of 2009, the company expects to remove 27 additional Boeing 737-300 and 737-500 aircraft from service.

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