News

Continental to complete B777 lie-flat roll out by September

16 Feb 2010

Continental Airlines isn’t apologetic about rolling out fully-flat seats in its BusinessFirst cabin after competitors Delta – the first US airline to do so – and United.

“It took us about three years (to produce results) – we wanted to get the product right,” Walter B Dias, Continental’s managing director, Greater China and Southeast Asia, told Business Traveller.  “As we had a lot of customers, who were extremely loyal to our BusinessFirst service, we also had to be careful not to fix what wasn’t broken.”

The new seats are being successively installed on the carrier’s 22 Boeing B777-200ERs, the aircraft deployed on trans-Pacific services such as Newark-Hongkong, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo and New Delhi and trans-Atlantic services such as New York-London in June. Retrofitting for the aircraft used on the trans-Pacific flights, conducted in Hongkong by Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Co (HAECO), is expected to be completed by September of this year.

The lie flats will also go onboard Continental’s main workhorse on US domestic routes, the B757 as well as the B787 Dreamliner. Continental is the futuristic aircraft’s second launch customer after ANA.

Featuring a herringbone layout (although not exactly to the specifications of Virgin Atlantic or Air New Zealand in that the footrest fits into a space next to the seat in front of it) innovations include an area dubbed the “Tower of Power”, placed just above the passenger’s shoulder that consolidates laptop power and headset and USB plugs. This does away with having to search for these outlets, which customers told Continental was inconvenient especially in a dimly lit cabin, said Continental’s Asian managing director Dias. A laptop-size space under the TV monitor and iPod connectivity are also part of the seat.

It’s been a busy past several months for Continental, having bolted Skyteam for Star Alliance in October of last year. The move, said Dias, has opened the world to the Continental customer, citing the network of Air China as well as those of other airline partners. In turn, Continental offers connections to the emerging economies of South America.

And after a two-year hiatus, the airline resumes air services between Hongkong and Guam with twice-weekly flights starting from April 2. The destination, said Dias, will appeal to Hongkong residents for its attractions for the wedding, honeymoon and family travel markets. Eligible holders of a Hongkong SAR passport or BNO passport do not need visas to enter the US territory.

For more on Continental, visit http://www.continental.com/

Margie T Logarta

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