Continental Announces Job Cuts & Reductions

I don’t normally put “news” on my blog but this is Continental’s news release about cuts and reductions. Since it maintains a hub in Cleveland, I’m including it as a post. It’s also my preferred airline.

Continental today is announcing significant reductions in flying and staffing that are necessary for the company to further adjust to today’s extremely high cost of fuel. These actions are among many steps Continental is taking to respond to record-high fuel prices as the industry faces its worst crisis since 9/11.

The price of Gulf Coast jet fuel closed yesterday at $151.26 – about 75 percent higher than what it was a year ago. At that price and at our current capacity, our fuel expense this year would be $2.3 billion more than it was last year. That increase alone amounts to about $50,000 per employee.

These record fuel costs have fundamentally shifted the economics of our business. At these fuel prices, a large number of our flights are losing money, and Continental needs to react to this changed marketplace.

Network Changes
Starting in September, at the conclusion of the peak summer season, Continental will reduce its flights, with fourth quarter domestic mainline departures to be down 16 percent year-over-year.
This will result in a reduction of domestic mainline capacity (available seat miles, or ASMs) by 11 percent in the fourth quarter, compared to the same period last year.

By the end of next week, Continental will provide details on specific flights and destinations that are subject to reduction or elimination. For additional information on departures and capacity for 2008 and 2009.

Co-worker Impact
As a result of the capacity reductions, Continental will need fewer co-workers worldwide to support the reduced flight schedule.

About 3,000 positions, including management positions, will be eliminated through voluntary and involuntary separations, with the majority expected to be through voluntary programs.

The company will offer voluntary programs in an effort to reduce the number of co-workers who will be furloughed or involuntarily terminated due to the capacity cuts.

Details of these programs will be available next week.

The reductions will take effect after the peak summer season, except for management and clerical reductions, which will begin sooner.

In recognition of the crisis and its effect on their co-workers, Larry Kellner, chairman and chief executive officer, and Jeff Smisek, president, have declined their salaries for the remainder of the year and have declined any payment under the annual incentive program for 2008.

Fleet Changes
Continental will reduce the size of its fleet by removing the least efficient aircraft from its network.

To accomplish this, Continental is accelerating the retirement of its Boeing 737-300 and 737-500 fleets. In the first six months of 2008, Continental removed six older aircraft from service.

Continental will retire an additional 67 Boeing 737-300 and 737-500 aircraft, with 37 of these additional retirements occurring in 2008 and 30 in 2009.

Given the need for prompt capacity reductions in today’s environment, 27 of the 67 aircraft will be removed in September. By the end of 2009, all 737-300 aircraft will be retired from Continental’s fleet.

Continental will continue to take delivery of new, fuel-efficient NextGen Boeing
737-800s and 737-900ERs. Overall fuel efficiency will improve measurably as Continental takes delivery of 16 of these aircraft in the second half of 2008 and 18 in 2009 and accelerates the retirement of the older, less fuel-efficient aircraft as mentioned previously.

By the end of the second quarter of 2008, Continental will operate 375 mainline aircraft. Taking into account both the accelerated retirements and scheduled deliveries, Continental’s fleet count will shrink to 356 aircraft in September 2008 and 344 aircraft at the end of 2009.