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First Continental 787 scheduled for delivery in 2011

Continental's first 787 should arrive at the carrier close to two years passed its original target date, as carrier management readies for the first aircraft delivery in 2011.

Today during an earnings call Continental CEO Larry Kellner pointed out the original scheduled date was next month.

Kellner says Continental hopes to receive three of the 25 787s it has on order in 2011, and explains delivery rates for the following years will be slower than anticipated. While the carrier does not foresee its targeted 5%-7% annual growth during the next couple years, Continental won't be able to achieve that level "until we get the aircraft in", says Kellner.

The chief executive praises Boeing in its effort to communicate programme delays and says Continental has some schedule flexibility if further delays occur.

Kellner appears committed to the 25 aircraft order - split between 17 787-9s and eight 787-8s. He praises both types since the 787 should give Continental operational capabilities not currently available. The 787-8, Kellner says, is a smaller aircraft that offers the range of a 777.

In the short term Continental has finalized a deal with Boeing Capital to lease four 757-300s previously operated by ATA Airlines at what the carrier believes are attractive rates. Management believes the -300 is ideal for high-density low-yield markets, making the -300 one of Continental's lowest cost per available seat mile (CASM) aircraft.

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