Continental Airlines has added 27 aircraft to its firm order positions at Boeing, including eight new 777 and 19 new Next-Generation 737 (737NG) aircraft. The aircraft orders give Continental the flexibility to replace less efficient airplanes and to pursue growth opportunities.
This new order brings Continental’s total firm commitments to 111 new Boeing aircraft (25 Boeing 787s, eight Boeing 777s and 78 Boeing 737s) for delivery over the next six years. In addition, Continental has options to purchase a total of 102 additional Boeing aircraft. Continental has taken delivery of five 737NG aircraft this year and plans to take delivery of 27 additional 737NG aircraft by the end of 2008.
Already operating 20 777 aircraft globally, Continental will use the eight additional aircraft announced today for long-haul international routes, such as the Newark Liberty-Shanghai route that is scheduled to start in 2009. The need for international widebodies is also driven by Continental’s commencement of service to London Heathrow next month, which represents the company largest-ever expansion into a single airport in one day. Continental will begin service to Heathrow twice daily from Liberty and twice daily from Houston.
One of the world’s most popular and reliable aircraft, the Boeing 737NGs feature advanced technology for greater operational efficiencies. The 19 additional 737NGs, along with other 737NG aircraft already on order, will give Continental the flexibility to continue to grow while replacing less efficient 737 Classic aircraft, such as the company’s 737-300 and 737-500 aircraft.
In addition to investing in new fuel efficient aircraft, Continental continues to enhance its existing fleet with fuel-saving technology. Continental has installed blended winglets on more than 200 mainline aircraft, which reduces drag and lowers emissions, noise and fuel burn by up to five percent. Continental was the launch customer for winglets on the Boeing 757-200, 737-900 and 737-500 aircraft types.
Continental has also reduced fuel consumption on its long-range Boeing 777 aircraft by installing advanced-technology 3D Aero Blades on the GE90 engines.
With its focused fleet modernization program, Continental has acquired a natural fuel hedge and an advantage over its competitors. Continental’s 737NG aircraft burn 50 percent less fuel per available seat mile compared to competitors who operate DC-9 aircraft and 30 percent less fuel per available seat mile compared to MD80s.
Since announcing its fleet modernization program a decade ago, Continental has reduced the number of aircraft types in its fleet from nine to three and reached its goal of operating one of the most efficient fleets among U.S. airlines. More than 70 percent of its fleet consists of common-rated Boeing 737 series aircraft, which allow for greater efficiencies in pilot training, enhanced crew flexibility, increased savings from simplified maintenance and reduced spare parts inventory costs.