Continental Airlines, Inc.
- ▪ American companyAmerican-based airline dating from 1934 and serving both North American and overseas destinations, with hubs mainly in Newark, N.J.; Cleveland, Ohio; Houston, Texas; and Denver, Colo., U.S. Its parent company is Continental Airlines Holdings, Inc. (formerly, 1980–90, Texas Air Corporation), headquartered in Houston.The company's history traces to Varney Airlines, incorporated by Walter T. Varney in 1934. Later it came under the control of Robert Forman Six (president 1938–82), who gave the airline the name Continental and, in the following decades, transformed the shoestring operation into one of the major American transportation companies, headquartered first in Denver and then (from 1963) in Los Angeles, Calif. By the 1970s it was flying routes from Chicago, Miami, and New Orleans to various continental points westward to the Pacific Coast and to Hawaii, the South Pacific, and the Far East, as well as south to Venezuela.By the 1980s Continental had fallen on hard times. In 1981–82 it was taken over by Texas Air Corporation. The merger incurred heavy debt, and, after bankruptcy proceedings (1983) and reorganization, Continental reduced services by two-thirds. In 1987 other Texas Air subsidiaries—New York Airlines, Inc. (founded 1980), People Express Airlines (1981), and Presidential Airlines (1985)—were merged into Continental Airlines, significantly increasing the company's aircraft and routes, but it continued to lose money and continued to be debt-ridden. Bitter conflicts between the airline unions and Texas Air's corporate management (headed by chairman Frank Lorenzo until August 1990) tended to aggravate operations. Continental filed for bankruptcy in December 1990. The airline emerged from bankruptcy in 1993 after being acquired by Air Canada and a group of private investors.
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