Continental Airlines (NYSE: CAI.B and CAI.A) retires its last Boeing 747 and last 737-200 this week, as it moves closer to having the youngest domestic jet fleet in the U.S. airline industry. The 737-200 retirement is part of Continental’s fleet rejuvenation program and the 747 exit is part of a reduction in Pacific capacity.
After three decades of reliable service, the 747 and 737-200 are being taken out of the fleet to make room for some of the previously announced 60 more-efficient Boeing jets being put into service this year.
In 1999, Continental is retiring 57 aircraft—nearly one retired aircraft for every new aircraft added to the fleet. The retirements and new aircraft deliveries will reduce Continental’s average fleet age to just 7.6 years by the end of this year. Continental retired 37 aircraft last year. By December 1999, approximately 60 percent of Continental’s fleet will consist of common-rated Boeing 737 series aircraft (-300, -500, -700 and -800), allowing for pilot training efficiencies, greater crew flexibility, simplified maintenance and savings on spare part inventory costs.
Continental’s Five-Year Flexible Growth Initiative allows the airline flexibility to grow at a zero to 8 percent annual rate.
With the retirement of the 737-200 and 747, Continental has dropped from nine to seven fleet types on its way to having only four fleet types by 2005.