Continental Airlines

Topics: Airline, Continental Airlines, Northwest Airlines Pages: 3 (885 words) Published: September 6, 2013
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Continental Airlines:
One Company’s Flight to Success
In the last decade, Continental Airlines has had a spotty track record. The airline twice filed for bankruptcy, realized diminished performance culminating in a $613 million loss in 1994, and was ranked dead last in industry indicators such as on-time performance among the major carriers. During these years, employees at Continental had undergone several series of layoffs and withstood both wage cuts and delayed wage increases in an effort to slash Continental’s costs. The result of these efforts was a demoralized workforce and a corporate reputation that put Continental near the top of Fortune’s list of “least admired” companies.

Despite this history, things have taken a positive turn for the airline in recent years. Since the arrival of Gordon Bethune, Continental’s new CEO, the company appears to have made a 180-degree turn and is now a highly productive and profitable carrier. Indeed, all indications are that Continental is back on track. For instance, in 1995, the carrier was number 1 in on-time performance for the first time ever and was highly ranked in baggage handling. Customer complaints are down more than 60 percent, and Continental recently gained the distinction of being the number 1 airline in customer satisfaction among the major U.S. carriers for long-distance flights. Just a few years earlier, Continental was last in this category. Moreover, sick leave and on-the-job injuries have decreased, and applications for employment at Continental are back up again. Perhaps most impressive is that Continental posted an all-time record annual profit in 1995, and in 1996 the price of Continental stock rose over 370 percent.

Compared with their listless efforts in the past, workers at Continental are now operating at a productivity level that is quite impressive. But what is the cause of this turnaround? Granted, the airline industry as a whole has realized greater profitability in...
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