Continental Airlines is a major American airline that recently merged with United in May 2011. It once stood out for its ability to adapt to the changing airline market. It was innovative in being one of the first airlines to use new jet aircraft technology in the 1960’s. It set itself apart as providing quality inflight experience for the customer. Today, with the help of its merger with United, Continental Airlines is the second-largest airline in the world.
Continental Airlines was born in 1934 as Varney Speed Lines, which ran airmail and passenger routes in the South West region of the United States. Robert Six, the company’s CEO, changed the name to Continental Air Lines in 1937. They began expanding and adding cities throughout the United States. In the 1960’s, it made a contract with Boeing to begin flying some of the first ever commercial jet aircraft, the Boeing 707.
After struggling through a periods of intense competition, two bankruptcies, and even being acquired by another company, they finally came out on top in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. In 2006 they reached fourth place on the list of largest in the U.S. When the recession hit in 2008, Continental and United, both of which were greatly affected by the recession, began merging talks. They officially merged in 2011, and today have the second-largest fleet of aircraft in the world.
The current CEO of the United-Continental merger is Jeffery Smisek, who was also Continental’s CEO, and Glenn Tilton, United’s previous CEO, now serves as non-executive Chairman of the Board. The headquarters are in Chicago, Illinois. Continental’s fleet consisted of four different Boeing models, plus their variants: the Boeing 737, 757, 767, and 777. Shortly before its merger they was serving over 2,400 daily flights to 130 domestic and 132 international destinations.
Special Awards and Recognition
Continental Airlines made a name for itself as one of the most green airlines in the industry. In 2009 it was named the Number One Greenest Airline by Greenopia, and later the Number One Pet-Friendly Airline by PetFinder.org. It had implemented a program that allowed passengers to donate $2 to offset their carbon footprint. The funds from this project were invested into replanting trees in deforested areas. In addition, Continental was the first airline worldwide to run flights using biofuel, instead of the usual Jet-A1 fuel.