Continental Outraged by BA Heathrow Purchase

Continental Airlines today expressed outrage at the newly confirmed
reports that British Airways, the dominant airline at London Heathrow, an
airport closed to new competition, has continued to purchase the limited
number of airport slots available. An airport slot provides a carrier a
right to take off or land from an airport.

In reports confirmed this week, British Airways announced that it has
agreed to purchase four slots held by one of only two U.S. carriers
permitted to operate at London Heathrow.

This purchase comes on the heels of British Airways` purchase of sixteen
slots from European airline Swiss last month and numerous British Airways
slot purchases over the past five years. It also marks the first time in
recent memory that Heathrow slots held by a U.S. carrier have been bought
by the dominant British carrier.

“Over the past few years, British Airways has ruthlessly strengthened its
iron grip on Heathrow by purchasing the limited number of slots held by
distressed carriers,” said a Continental spokesperson. “British Airways`
purchases are a scheme to prevent any slots from being available to new
U.S. airline competitors should London Heathrow, the most important and
most restricted airport in Europe, open to competition.

“British Airways` continued attempts to close Heathrow to competition
should not go unnoticed. The U.S. paid a hefty price to preserve these
Heathrow rights for U.S. carriers when the United States` aviation treaty
with the United Kingdom was signed, giving British carriers the upper hand
and subjecting non-Heathrow U.S. carriers and U.S. communities to years of
futile efforts to gain access to London Heathrow. Letting these limited
U.S. rights slip into British Airways` hands further proves the need to
open Heathrow to carriers like Continental to expand competition and
benefit consumers.”

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Talks are currently underway between the United States and European Union
over a first-ever aviation agreement between the two parties. At the crux
of the discussions is the failure of U.S. attempts to open London Heathrow
to active competition by additional U.S. carriers, including Continental,
which currently serves London (Gatwick) from New York, Houston and
Cleveland. Under the current U.S.-U.K. aviation agreement, trans-Atlantic
flights at Heathrow are closed to all but two carriers from each country.

“Continental urges the U.S. negotiators to make the issue of Heathrow
slots the top priority in their European negotiations,” the spokesperson
said. “Simply opening up Heathrow for new carriers is not enough. The
right to fly to Heathrow is useless without the right to take off and land
there as well. Airlines like Continental must be given slots at Heathrow
to stem the tide of British Airways` domination.”

Continental Airlines is the world`s seventh-largest airline and has more
than 2,200 daily departures. With 127 domestic and 96 international
destinations, Continental has the broadest global route network of any
U.S. airline, including extensive service throughout the Americas, Europe
and Asia. Continental has hubs serving New York, Houston, Cleveland and
Guam, and carries approximately 41 million passengers per year on the
newest jet fleet among major U.S. airlines. With 42,000 mainline
employees, Continental is one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in
America. In 2003, Fortune ranked Continental highest among major U.S.
carriers in the quality of its service and products, and No. 2 on its list
of Most Admired Global Airlines. For more company information, visit
continental.com .

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