History Of Continental Airlines





History Of Continental Airlines 

Continental Airlines' history dates back to 1934, when the carrier was operated under the name of Varney Speed Lines by its owners Walter Varney and Louis Mueller. The would be operated out of El Paso, Texas. The carrier operated between Pueblo, Colorado to El Paso, Texas with stops in Las Vegas, Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mueller gained control over the carrier and in 1936, sold 40 percent of the company shares to Robert Six. In July 1937, Robert Six changed the name of Varney Speed Lines to Continental Airlines and the carrier moved its headquarters to Denver, Colorado.

During the 1940' and 50's, Continental Airlines was able to expand its fleet of aircraft and profits through its participation in World War II by providing air transportation to the military. In the early 1950's, Continental Airlines merged with southwest based Pioneer Airlines. This merger allowed Continental Airlines to operate air routes between Texas and New Mexico. By the end of the 1950's, Continental Airlines had expanded its routes to include Chicago and Los Angeles and was operating 7 days a week.

By the early 1960's, Continental moved its headquarters to Los Angles, California and was providing air transportation for United States Military troops to the Orient during the Vietnam conflict. As a result of Continental's experience in the Orient, Continental formed Air Micronesia, picking up air routes between Saipan and Honolulu.

With the passing of the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 airline carries were provided with new freedoms to expand their route systems and the flexibility to develop innovative pricing structures. This flexibility allowed the carrier to further grow into new markets. However, deregulation brought about many unwanted hostile takeovers and mergers. In 1982, Continental merged with Texas International Airlines and under the management of Frank Lorenzo. This was a very turbulent time for Continental. However, Continental expanded its route structure to include South America, Asia and Australia and had a fleet of over 100 aircraft.

In 1983, Continental filed bankruptcy with losses of ($218,000,000.). Continental restructured the air carrier and participated in the air fare wars with the hopes of stabilizing the carrier and to turn a profit. By the end of 1984 Continental was able to turn a profit. In 1986 Continental took over Frontier Airlines and began flying its routes. This was a boost for the carrier. However, with the rise in the cost of fuel due to the invasion of Kuwait, Continental again in late1990, filed for bankruptcy for a second time. It was not clear if the filing for restructuring under the bankruptcy laws was Lorenzos attempt to bust the union or not.

In 1993, Continental purchased over 90 new Boeing aircraft which included 737's, 757's, 767's and 777's with the investments made into Continental Airlines by Air Canada and Air Partners. In addition Continental President, Gordon Bethune recognized one of his most valuable resources was his employees. He initiated the "Fly To Win, Fund The Future, Make Reliability and Working Together" program. This program would improve on departure and arrival time of his aircraft, improve baggage handling, customer service and improve employee moral through employee incentive program.


 This program was very successful, it brought the airline carrier out of the red and allowed the carrier to make record breaking profits. This program motivated other major carriers to develop similar programs as the public was now demanding air carriers to as well improve their performance with departure and arrival time of aircraft, improve baggage handling, customer service and improve employee moral.

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