Thursday, September 27, 2001

Continental Airlines' switch to smaller jets will cut isle jobs.

Continental to close
Hawaii pilot center

Some maintenance and
food preparation jobs
also will be lost

By Russ Lynch

Continental Airlines will close its Honolulu pilot base by Oct. 1, moving the jobs of about 130 captains and flight engineers out of Hawaii.

News of the base closing came after word yesterday that Continental is laying off 47 of its 142-member Honolulu maintenance force and is cutting 14 of the approximately 100 jobs at its Honolulu food-preparation operation, Continental Chelsea Flight Kitchen.

The flight crews will be given the option to work out of Continental bases outside Hawaii, Continental said.

The airline said the job changes are not directly related to the downturn in tourism that followed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. They result from the airline's decision to speed up the replacement of its aging McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 jets with more efficient Boeing 767-400ER planes, the company said.

Continental was to have phased out the DC-10s through the first quarter of 2002 but announced last week it would complete the change by Oct. 1. The advanced timetable was decided after Sept. 11, but the job changes would have happened over time anyway.

Ron Wright, Continental's Hawaii managing director of marketing and sales, said yesterday that Continental has been doing "heavy maintenance" here on the DC-10s, and some of the mechanics and other maintenance workers will not be needed once there are no more DC-10s in the fleet.

Other staff cuts are related to the operations of the fuel-efficient 767s, he said.

Meanwhile, Continental is maintaining its entire Hawaii flight schedule, but with about 16 percent fewer seats because the 767s are smaller than the DC-10s, he said.

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