Continental Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the United States. Let us explore the history and profile of Continental Airlines.

Continental Airlines

Continental Airlines is the fourth largest airline in the US, going by the criteria of revenue passenger miles. Headquartered in Downtown Houston, Texas, it operates on flight routes throughout the U.S., Europe, Canada and the Asia-pacific region. It also has trade links with the Express Jet Airlines, which operates for Continental Airlines under the name of Continental Express, from hubs at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (Houston), Newark Liberty International Airport (New Jersey), and Hopkins International Airport, (Cleveland, Ohio).

Continental Airlines took birth in the year 1934, as Varney Speed Lines. At that time, it was operating out of El Paso and extending through Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Las Vegas, NM to Pueblo, CO. The same year, Robert Six came to know of an opportunity to buy into the Southwest Division of Varney Speed Lines. Soon, he founded the Southwest Division of Varney, with Walter T. Varney. On July 5, 1936, Six bought into the airline and became the General Manager. The very next year, on July 8, the airline was renamed Continental and in October, its headquarters shifted to Denver Union Airport.

Membership & Fleet
Continental Airlines is a member of the SkyTeam Alliance, where it participates with Northwest Airlines, Delta Airlines, Air France, Aero Mexico, Al Italia and KLM. However, it had announced plans to withdraw from the Skyteam and join the Star Alliance, seeking more cooperation with United Airlines and other Star Alliance Airlines. Its fleet includes Boeing 737-300, Boeing 737-500, Boeing 737-700, Boeing 737-800, Boeing 737-900, Boeing 737-900ER, Boeing 757-200, Boeing 757-300, Boeing 767-200ER, Boeing 767-400ER, Boeing 777-200ER, Boeing 787-8 and Boeing 787-9.

Destinations Covered
Continental Airlines remained a domestic airline in the first 40 years of its existence. However, with the incorporation of Texas International routes, its face changed forever. As of 2008, the air service covered about 132 international and 133 domestic destinations, with more than 550 additional points served via SkyTeam alliance partner airlines. Together with Continental Express and Continental Connection, it records 3100 daily departures, with most flights controlled from their hubs.

Some affiliated airlines, like Gulfstream International Airlines, use the Continental Connection name and operate flights not involving hubs. Continental Airlines covers all the major European destinations, namely Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and UK. It also flies to China, Japan, India and Israel in Asia, along with Bermuda, Canada, Mexico, United States, Carribean, Central America and South America.

One Pass Privilege
Continental Airlines offers One Pass privilege to its frequent travelers, previously known as the Frequent Flier Program. Travelers can obtain benefits, such as free tickets, first class upgrades on flights, mileage bonus, priority check-in and boarding and discounted membership of its airport lounge, as a part of the privilege. There are silver, gold and platinum elite tiers in the One Pass system, awarded on the basis of miles accumulated by customers from flight segments.

Continental Airlines has managed to secure the title of the No. 1 most admired airline by the Fortune magazine, five times in a row since 2004. It was also awarded the honor of being the ‘Airline of the Year’ by OAG. Continental has received similar awards from Yahoo and other organizations. It was named the Best Airline for North American Travel by Business Traveler Magazine in the year 2008. The airline has also made creditable efforts in modernizing operational activities to lessen environmental risks, by contributing in reduction of significant greenhouse gas and noise emissions.

Last Updated on 1st August, 2009