Continental Airlines is a major American airline based and headquartered in Continental Center I in Downtown Houston, Texas. It is the fourth-largest airline in the US based on revenue passenger miles. Continental operates flights to destinations throughout the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific regions. Principal operations are from its three hubs at Newark Liberty International Airport, George Bush Intercontinental Airport, and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
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The origin of Continental Airlines dates to the 1934 formation of Varney Speed Lines, which operated airmail and passenger services in the American Southwest. The carrier was renamed Continental Air Lines in 1937, and expanded its domestic U.S. network in the 1960s with jet aircraft. International flights to Southeast Asia and South Pacific destinations began in 1978 following industry deregulation. Continental was embroiled in ownership struggles in the 1980s, and entered bankruptcy in 1983 and 1990. The carrier exhibited a financial and operational turnaround after 1996, and embarked on international route expansion in the 2000s.
Continental has ownership interests and brand partnerships with several carriers. Continental Micronesia, a wholly owned subsidiary, operates routes around Micronesia from its hub at Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport in Guam and connects the Micronesian region with destinations in East Asia, Southeast Asia, Honolulu and Cairns, Australia. Continental is also a minority owner of ExpressJet Airlines, which operates under the trade name Continental Express but is a separately managed and publicly-traded company. Chautauqua Airlines also flies under the Continental Express identity, and Cape Air, Colgan Air, CommutAir, and Gulfstream International Airlines feed Continental's flights under the Continental Connection identity. Continental does not have any ownership interests in these companies.
Continental Airlines left the SkyTeam alliance on October 24, 2009, and joined Star Alliance on October 27, 2009. Together with its subsidiaries, Continental has more than 2,423 daily departures, serving 130 domestic and 132 international destinations and has 42,210 employees as of December 2009. Since 1998, Continental's marketing slogan has been "Work Hard, Fly Right."
On Sunday, May 2, 2010, the Boards of Directors at Continental and United Airlines approved a stock-swap deal that would combine them into the world's largest airline in revenue passenger miles. The new airline will take on the United Airlines name, Continental's logo and be based out of United's hometown of Chicago. The new United will be run by Continental's CEO, Jeffery Smisek, along with United Airline's CEO, Glenn Tilton, serving as non-executive Chairman of the board. The deal will still need final approval from antitrust regulators and shareholders before being allowed to go forward. The companies expect to complete the transaction, worth (USD)$3.2 billion, in the fourth quarter of 2010.