Continental Airlines recalling last of furloughed pilots from 2008

Friday, September 3, 2010

Continental recalling furloughed pilots

HOUSTON — Continental Airlines Inc. is recalling 132 pilots who were furloughed in 2008, saying it needs them to offset retirements and handle an increase in international flying.

Continental spokeswoman Julie King said the additional pilots would cover the company’s needs over the next 18 months.

So far this year, Continental’s traffic is running about 3 percent higher than a year ago due to international traffic, which is up 6.5 percent. Domestic traffic has fallen 1 percent compared with the same months in 2009.

Revenue is surging thanks to higher fares and fees on many services. Second-quarter revenue jumped 19 percent compared with a year earlier.

The move could help Houston-based Continental build labor support as it carries out a plan to combine with UAL Corp.’s United Airlines. Continental is the nation’s fourth-largest airline and United is third. Together, they would create the world’s biggest airline.

U.S. regulators approved the deal last week, and shareholders for both airlines are scheduled to vote in two weeks.

Earlier this year, Continental recalled 15 of the 147 pilots it furloughed in September 2008. The latest group to be recalled are expected to start retraining in the last three months of the year.

Jay Pierce, chairman of the Continental branch of the Air Line Pilots Association, said the latest callbacks were “good news for all of our pilots and their families” and needed to maintain the airline’s flight schedule.

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