Continental Airlines (NYSE: CAL) today reported a systemwide mainline load factor of 72.3 percent for September 2003, 4.4 points above last year`s September load factor. In addition, the airline had a September domestic mainline load factor of 71.3 percent, 5.1 points above September 2002, and an international mainline load factor of 73.8 percent, 3.3 points above September 2002.
Continental`s traffic on the Sept. 11 anniversary was not significantly impacted when compared to last year. Systemwide mainline traffic on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2003 declined 6.8 percent in revenue passenger miles (RPMs) and 3.3 percent in available seat miles (ASMs) compared to Thursday, Sept. 4, 2003. In comparison, systemwide mainline traffic on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2002 was down 42 percent in RPMs and 22 percent in ASMs compared to Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2002.
During the month, Continental recorded a U.S. Department of Transportation on-time arrival rate of 78.1 percent and a systemwide completion factor of 99.1 percent. The airline`s operational results were adversely impacted by a month-long runway resurfacing project at Newark Liberty International Airport, which was completed Sept. 27, 2003, and Hurricane Isabel.
In September 2003, Continental flew 4.6 billion mainline revenue passenger miles (RPMs) and 6.3 billion mainline available seat miles (ASMs) systemwide, resulting in a traffic increase of 2.1 percent and a capacity decrease of 4.0 percent as compared to September 2002. Domestic mainline traffic was 2.7 billion RPMs in September 2003, up 2.7 percent from September 2002, and domestic mainline capacity was 3.7 billion ASMs, down 4.6 percent from September 2002.
Systemwide September 2003 passenger revenue per available seat mile (RASM) is estimated to have increased between 4.5 and 5.5 percent compared to September 2002. For August 2003, RASM increased 4.4 percent as compared to August 2002.
Continental ended the third quarter 2003 with a consolidated cash and short-term investments balance of approximately $1.6 billion (including $139 million of restricted cash). Continental has hedged 60 percent of its projected fourth quarter fuel volume with caps averaging $28.75 per barrel.
Continental`s regional operations (Continental Express) set a record September load factor of 66.9 percent, 6.4 points above last year`s September load factor. Regional RPMs were 483.3 million and regional ASMs were 722.9 million in September 2003, resulting in a traffic increase of 57.0 percent and a capacity increase of 42.2 percent versus September 2002.
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 2002 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. The company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward- looking statements to reflect events or circumstances that may arise after the date of this press release.