By Mary Kirby in Philadelphia

US mainline carrier Continental Airlines has confirmed it is ordering 10 more Boeing 787s, adding to the 10 orders it announced in December 2004.

The first of the 20 787s is scheduled for delivery in 2009, says Continental in a statement.

The 787s will be used to replace certain widebodies, including Continental’s 767-200s, and will enable the carrier to target additional long-haul markets, it adds.

Continental also will acquire 24 new 737s, with deliveries beginning in 2008. This will bring the total number of current generation 737s in Continental’s fleet to 213 when these and pre-existing firm orders are delivered.

The additional narrowbodies, along with other 737s already on order, “will give Continental the flexibility to continue to grow while replacing older, less efficient 737 classic aircraft, such as the company’s 737-300 aircraft”, says the carrier.

Continental has arranged backstop financing for the additional 737s.

“These aircraft will give us the ability to seize long-haul market opportunities, remove less efficient aircraft from our fleet and maintain our role as a global network leader,” says Continental chairman and chief executive Larry Kellner.

“We continue to target 5% to 7% annual growth in capacity. Our fleet plan remains flexible, permitting us to respond appropriately to market conditions,” says Kellner.

Continental could not be immediately reached for further comment.

Source: Flight International