Continental Airlines today celebrates the 25th anniversary of its first flight from the United Kingdom. The inaugural flight from London Gatwick to Houston on the 29th April 1985 began a quarter of a century of growth in the UK, as the airline expanded its operations to seven airports and up to 14 daily flights – 12 to its New York hub, Newark Liberty International Airport, and two to Houston.
Continental has become the only trans-Atlantic carrier with a significant presence in the UK regions, while the Open Skies treaty in March 2008 gave the carrier access to London Heathrow for the first time, and heralded the start of a significant expansion into that market. Indeed, by October 31, 2010 when Continental begins a fifth daily service to New York, the airline will have seven daily trans-Atlantic flights from Heathrow (two to Houston).
Continental was also the first-ever airline to offer scheduled non-stop trans-Atlantic flights from Edinburgh, Bristol and Belfast, and has now operated services to New York from Glasgow for almost 12 years, from Birmingham for almost 13 years and from Manchester for almost 15 years. For many of the UK cities that the airline serves, it offers the only direct route to New York.
Bob Schumacher, Senior Director – UK & Ireland, said: “Although we’re an American carrier, the UK is one of our most important markets. The last 25 years have seen us grow from being a small player at London Gatwick to operating trans-Atlantic flights from more UK airports than any other airline and now being a major operator at Heathrow. People often talk about the ‘special relationship’ between the UK and the US and the Continental success story here is strong evidence of this bond. We look forward to another successful 25 years and helping many more people fly between the two countries for business and leisure.”
Continental Airlines’ UK milestones
o April 1985 – Inaugural flight from London Gatwick to Houston
o June 1987 – Inaugural flight from London Gatwick to New York
o 1992 – Introduction of BusinessFirst on UK services
o July 1995 – Inaugural flight from Manchester to New York
o July 1997 – Inaugural flight from Birmingham to New York
o July 1998 – Inaugural flight from Glasgow to New York
o January 1999 – Introduction of Boeing 777 on London Gatwick-New York route
o June 2004 – Inaugural flight from Edinburgh to New York
o May 2005 – Inaugural flight from Bristol to New York
o May 2005 – Inaugural flight from Belfast to New York
o March 2008 – Inaugural flights from London Heathrow to New York and Houston
o October 2009 – Continental joins Star Alliance, the world’s largest and most comprehensive airline alliance
o November 2009 – Aircraft featuring new BusinessFirst flat-bed seat start serving the UK