Continental Airlines Inc., pressing forward on plans to shrink operations to blunt surging fuel costs, said it's pulling out of 15 cities around the world and trimming flights at its hub airports.
The fourth-largest U.S. airline provided the first details of how and where it's cutting back after announcing that it would retire 67 planes and eliminate 3,000 jobs. Specifics on the workforce reduction will come later, Continental said.
Continental's hometown hub in Houston will have 7.9 percent less seating capacity starting in September, while Cleveland will be cut 13 percent, the carrier said. The company's total U.S. seating capacity will fall by 11 percent in the fourth quarter after the peak summer travel season ends.
"These actions are among the many difficult steps Continental is taking to respond to record-high fuel prices," the Houston- based company said this past week in a statement.
The cities being dropped represent about 5 percent of the 286 destinations Continental served worldwide a year earlier.
The smallest cutback at a Continental hub will be at New Jersey's Newark Liberty airport, where seating capacity will be cut by 3 percent. Flying at the hub in Guam, from which Continental serves Pacific destinations, will be slashed by 22 percent.
Continental will stop flying to 12 cities from its main hub at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport, including Oakland, Calif.; Washington Dulles; and Sarasota, Fla.
There are seven routes being cut from Newark, including Salt Lake City; San Jose, Calif; and Tucson, Ariz.
From Cleveland, the carrier will no longer serve 23 markets, including Detroit; Washington Dulles; Memphis, Tenn.; Charleston, S.C.; and Des Moines, Iowa. At the Guam hub, Continental is cutting service to Bali, Indonesia.
Because of the dropped routes, Continental will close its gates and ticket counters at 15 airports in cities including Oakland; Bali; Cologne, Germany; Santiago, Dominican Republic; Toledo, Ohio; and Reno, Nev.
Continental's "biggest challenge" is the price of jet fuel, which has soared 92 percent in the past year, Chief Executive Officer Larry Kellner said at the company's annual meeting in Houston. The cutbacks at Continental are being echoed across the U.S. airline industry.