Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Continental Airlines

Continental Airlines is an American airline. Based in Houston, Texas, it is the 5th largest airline in the U.S. and the 7th largest in the world. It uses the IATA call code CO.

Continental has hubs in George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas, Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland, Ohio, and General Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport in Tamuning, Guam. The last hub has operations of its subsidiary, Continental Micronesia

Continental once had a hub at Stapleton Airport in Denver, Colorado. Continental walked out of Stapleton due to high landing fees, and Stapleton was eventually bulldozed in favor of Denver International Airport.

Continental has partner ownership of Expressjet, which is under the name Continental Express. They also use Skywest, Cape Air, Commutair, and Gulfstream International Airlines for their Continental Connection service.

Continental was formerly part of the Wings Alliance and has partnerships with Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines They code-share with Amtrak to some cities in the northeastern United States and with SNCF French Rail to stations in France.

Continental flies to various destinations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. Continental already flies to airports such as Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City, Mexico, London Gatwick Airport in London, United Kingdom, Charles De Gaulle International Airport in Paris, France, Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, and New Tokyo International Airport in Narita, Japan. They plan on beginning service to Dubai International Airport in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, India

Continental Airlines began service in 1934 as Varney Speed Lines, named after its initial owner, Walter T. Varney, first operating out of El Paso International Airport.

Varney Speed Lines changed its name to Continental in 1937 after new owner Robert Six had taken over. Six moved the airline headquarters to Denver in October of that same year. He went on to preside over the airline for 40 years.

In the 1940s Continental's Denver headquarters became a conversion center where the airline took care of converting B-27s and B-29s for the United States military during World War II.

In 1953, Continental merged with Pioneer Airlines, gaining access to 16 more cities in Texas and New Mexico. In 1957 it flew for the first time from Chicago to Los Angeles.

1958 was the year Continental entered the jet age, using Boeing 707s for the first time.

In the 1960s many things that shaped Continental happened. 1962 saw the airline's first tragedy, with a bomb exploding inside a 707 causing the deaths of 45 people. In 1963 the company's headquarters moved to Los Angeles and in 1968 a new livery was launched, the orange and gold cheatlines adorned with a black global circle on the jet's tails.

During the 1960s the airline transported American soldiers to Vietnam too, and realizing there was a market in the Pacific Ocean, Continental set up an airline in Micronesia, Air Micronesia. This airline is nowadays known as Continental Micronesia and it uses Continental's livery on its jets.

1969 saw service to Honolulu begin, and in 1970, Continental's first Boeing 747 arrived. DC-10s were added to the fleet soon after, and the rest of the 1970s saw Continental's expansion keep on going, landing in Auckland and Sydney by 1977.

1978 saw the Airline Deregulation Act get passed by congress and this caused great problems for various established airlines, Continental among them. The next 10 years were problematic inside Continental's institution. In 1982, Continental merged with Texas International, (formerly Trans-Texas Air, which flew DC-3s as late as the 1960s), retaining the name Continental. Thus Continental forged a relationship with the controversial Frank Lorenzo for the first time. After this, Continental's central offices relocated to Houston, where they have remained so far.

In 1983 Continental filed to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code and quickly the airline's rebuilding process began.

By 1985 Continental started flying to Europe. Continental's first flights to that continent went from Newark and Houston to London.

1986 saw Continental's emergence from Chapter 11 and soon after, it became the third largest airline in the United States by acquiring Frontier Airlines and New York Air.

1987 saw the creation of the OnePass frequent flyer program, and in 1988 Continental made its first partnership ever, with the Scandinavian Airlines System.

Then came the 1990s. They started with Lorenzo leaving the airline to dedicate himself full time to Eastern Airlines, and also with the rise of the price of gas because of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and the resulting Gulf War. As a consequence of the conflict and the rises, Continental had to file for bankruptcy again.

In 1991 Continental's current livery using White and Blue prominently on their jets was unveiled, and in 1993, Air Canada, along with Air Partners, aided Continental in coming out of chapter 11 once again by investing $450 million dollars in the airline. This year the airline ordered 737s, 757s, 767s and 777s to strengthen their fleet.

In 1994 Continental celebrated its 60th anniversary and in 1995 Greg Brenneman became new Chief Operating Officer.

1998 saw Continental launch flights for the first time ever into the Ireland and Scotland markets, and in October of 1999 the airline received its first Boeing 777 ever, allowing Continental to launch non stop flights from New York and Houston to Narita, Japan.

That year also saw Continental become partners with Northwest Airlines and Copa and retire its last 747 from service. Continental had also become partners with Avant Airlines of Santiago, Chile and it was, along with America West, the first two USA airlines to launch the Interline E-Ticket system.

In 2001, Larry Kellsner was named the company's President, and Continental began a partnership with TransBrazil.

In 2002, Continental announced its intentions to open a hub at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to compete with American Airlines there. Continental Connection later added its code to Cape Air's Caribbean Operations.