Continental Airlines has unveiled a new look for aircraft No. 001, one of the carrier’s 18 Boeing-777 aircraft. In honor of Chairman and CEO Gordon Bethune’s more than ten year career and pending retirement at the end of December 2004, Continental employees named the aircraft “Gordon M. Bethune,” and presented Bethune with a plaque documenting the highlights of his long career in aviation, which will be displayed inside the cabin.
Employees dedicated the aircraft to Bethune during two separate employee events at Continental’s hubs in Newark and Houston. The “Hail and Farewell” events, underwritten by the Boeing Company and held in Continental’s maintenance hangar facilities, gave thousands of employees the opportunity to say goodbye to Bethune, the longest tenured CEO in the current airline industry and the mastermind behind Continental’s remarkable corporate turnaround in 1994. Continental’s President and Chief Operating Officer Larry Kellner, who will assume Bethune’s responsibilities at the end of the year, spoke on behalf of the carrier’s 41,000 employees when the 777 was revealed to Bethune.
“Gordon, it has been our great honor to work with you these past 10 years, and we thank you for bringing together the best group of professionals in the industry, inspiring us to work together to create a great airline, and requiring that each and every person associated with this company is treated with dignity and respect,” Kellner said. “I know we’ll all remember you and your accomplishments for years and years to come, but to ensure your constant presence at Continental as we fly into the future, we have dedicated this 777 aircraft to you.”