Continental Airlines (NYSE: CAL) today reported a 2002 systemwide mainline jet load factor of 74.1 percent, 1.7 points above the 2001 load factor. For December 2002, Continental reported a record December systemwide mainline jet load factor of 74.0 percent, 1.3 points above the previous record reported for December 2001. The airline reported a record December domestic mainline jet load factor of 75.4 percent and an international mainline jet load factor of 71.9 percent for December 2002.
The movement of the busy Thanksgiving return days, Sunday and Monday, from November to December this year accounted for an increase of about two points for the December domestic mainline jet load factor. In the attached charts, Continental provides traffic results for 2002, 2001 and 2000 because the events of Sept. 11, 2001 skew year-over-year comparisons of 2002 to 2001.
For 2002, Continental reported a record on-time arrival rate of 83.5 percent and a record completion factor of 99.7 percent. For December 2002, the airline`s on-time arrival rate was 76.4 percent and its completion factor was 99.3 percent for its mainline jet operations.
In December 2002, Continental flew 4.8 billion mainline jet revenue passenger miles (RPMs) and 6.5 billion mainline jet available seat miles (ASMs) systemwide, resulting in a traffic increase of 7.0 percent and a capacity increase of 5.0 percent as compared to December 2001. Domestic mainline jet traffic was 3.1 billion RPMs in December 2002, up 5.9 percent from December 2001, and December 2002 domestic mainline jet capacity was 4.0 billion ASMs, up 1.9 percent from December 2001.
Systemwide December 2002 mainline jet passenger revenue per available seat mile (RASM) is estimated to have increased between 9 and 11 percent compared to December 2001 and decreased between 5 and 7 percent compared to December 2000. For November 2002, RASM decreased 1.7 percent as compared to November 2001 and declined 18.4 percent as compared to November 2000.
While the preliminary December year-over-year and year-over-2000 RASM numbers are encouraging, two factors accounted for the improvement over previous months. First, the very strong Sunday and Monday Thanksgiving return days fell in December this year, unlike the previous two years. Continental estimates that this contributed 3 points to the RASM improvement. Second, the holiday period from the Saturday before Christmas to New Year`s Eve was particularly strong, and while that strength may spill into the first few days of January, the airline does not expect those trends to continue for all of January.
Consolidated breakeven load factor for January 2003 is estimated to be 84 percent. Consolidated breakeven load factor for December 2002 is estimated to have been 79 percent. Actual consolidated breakeven load factor may vary significantly from these estimates depending on actual passenger revenue yields, fuel price and other factors. Month-to-date consolidated load factor information can be found on Continental`s website at continental.com in the Investor Relations-Financial/Traffic Releases section.
ExpressJet Airlines, a subsidiary of Continental Airlines doing business as Continental Express, separately reported a record December load factor of 67.6 percent for December 2002, 5.8 points above last year`s December load factor. ExpressJet flew 384.0 million RPMs and 568.2 million ASMs in December 2002, resulting in a traffic increase of 36.9 percent and a capacity increase of 25.2 percent versus December 2001.
This press release contains forward-looking statements that are not limited to historical facts, but reflect the Company`s current beliefs, expectations or intentions regarding future events. All forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements. For examples of such risks and uncertainties, please see the risk factors set forth in the Company`s 2001 10-K and its other securities filings, which identify important matters such as terrorist attacks, domestic and international economic conditions, the significant cost of aircraft fuel, labor costs, competition, regulatory matters and industry conditions, including the demand for air travel, the airline pricing environment and industry capacity decisions.