Continental slashes 1,700 jobs as revenues collapse

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Continental Airlines is to axe 1,700 positions as part of a cost-cutting effort aimed at saving $100 million, after the US carrier turned in a second-quarter net loss of $213 million.

The airline says the elimination of the positions, including management and clerical, comes on top of its cutting of 500 reservation agents and special leave of absence for 700 cabin crew.

Continental says it is offering voluntary schemes to minimise the number of involuntary redundancies.

The carrier's total revenue for the second quarter was down by nearly 23% to $3.1 billion.

Second-quarter results, it says, were hit by "significant declines" in high-yield traffic as business passengers cut back on travel or purchased economy tickets.

"While the unit revenue decline appears to be bottoming out, it is doing so at low levels and we must take aggressive steps to increase revenue and reduce costs," says Continental chief Larry Kellner.

The airline also says that while fuel costs were down by 46%, the swine influenza outbreak cost the airline $50 million in passenger revenues.

Continental is also bidding to reinforce revenues by raising domestic checked baggage fees by $5 from 19 August, and telephone reservation booking fees by the same amount immediately.