Continental Reshapes Its LA Operation, Expands Hawai’i

Update 10/9 @1041a: Nevermind. Continental just uses the 737-800 as a placeholder for future schedules. These can be expected to change in the next month or so. The Hawai’i stuff is still valid. Sorry about that.

It looks like Continental has decided to join in the Hawai’i sweepstakes with some interesting new west coast routes, including the first Orange County – Honolulu flight since Aloha folded. But while those are interesting, I’m more intrigued by the remaking they’re giving to their LA operation.

Today, LAX is a jumble of airplanes ranging from 737-800s and 737-900s to 757-200s and 757-300s. Beginning March 7, LAX will be an all-737 operation. In fact, everything will be a 737-800 except for the two flights to Honolulu which will be on 737-900s. Not only are the planes shrinking, but they’re also cutting frequencies. Houston, Newark, and Cleveland will each see one less flight per day from LAX.

Continental's 737-800 loves LAX

Currently, by my count there are six Continental airplanes that sit overnight at LAX. That will drop to four with the new schedule. Part of that is thanks to a new nonstop flight to Maui. The airplane leaves LAX at 505p and returns on a redeye just in time to start the day as it would have were it sitting on the ground.

The Honolulu operations are even more interesting. Right now, Honolulu is operated by a 737-800, and it sits there for a long time. It arrives at 1245p and then doesn’t come back to LAX until 830p. But starting in March, there will be two daily flights on the 737-900. One will leave LAX at 1020a and arrive Honolulu at 120p. But instead of waiting all day, it will turn right around and come back to LAX at 150p. The other will leave LAX at 155p and arrive Honolulu at 440p. That will just turn around on the 825p redeye. It appears these airplanes will just go around in circles between the two cities.

Meanwhile, down the road in Orange County, Continental is resurrecting the flight to Honolulu that last operated before Aloha went belly up. Like Aloha, they’ll use a 737-700. This is a pure utilization flight. Right now, there are two 737-700s that come in at 428p and 732p. One of those turns around for the 915p redeye to Newark but the other stays overnight. So, if the 428p sits overnight today, it can now do the 520p departure to Honolulu and return at 745a the next day ready to resume its normal schedule.

This flight is only operating 4 days a week for now but they have plans to expand to daily.

So why are all these moves being made? Something tells me it’s related to Continental joining the Star Alliance. Now, Continental will be able to fill those Hawai’i flights with feed from United and United Express in LAX. And in Orange County, they’ll be able to tap into that loyal Mileage Plus base that may not even know what OnePass is. (It’s been a long, long time since Continental was based here, and they’re often the last airline people think about.)

Should United be flying Orange County to Honolulu? Hell yeah, but they don’t really have the right airplane for the route. Those Airbuses can’t make it. So once again, United will sit back and watch another airline pick away at its turf. At least this time it’s an ally. It’s quite interesting to see Continental make these changes.


12 Responses to Continental Reshapes Its LA Operation, Expands Hawai’i

  1. David SFeastbay says:

    I wonder if they will do something like this in the Bay Area? There is a large Hawaiian population here and when Aloha and ATA went away it did leave a gap in service.

  2. Steven says:

    One thing to note regarding CO’s equipment on timetables that far out — the airline is known for listing “738” as the equipment for flights more than about 4-6 months into the future, and then later changing it once the schedule is more set in stone. I’ve witnessed 738s morphing into 753s and 739s rather often as schedule updates were published. It’s possible they’ll go mostly to the 738 on the LAX flights, but it’s also quite possible that the 738s on the timetable that far out are just placeholders.

  3. CF says:

    @ Steven:
    Damn, I just confirmed this with someone else as well. Sorry about that incredibly disappointing post. *sigh*

  4. Zach says:

    Any talk of CO expanding Chicago ops? I’m looking for a new go-to airline to replace UA, which is becoming increasingly expensive and inconvenient.

  5. CF says:

    Zach wrote:

    Any talk of CO expanding Chicago ops? I’m looking for a new go-to airline to replace UA, which is becoming increasingly expensive and inconvenient.

    Well, you have more good options in Chicago than just about anywhere. If you’re in love with O’Hare, you can always fly American. Or if you’re willing to head to the south side, Southwest will gladly fly you all over the country.

    My guess is that the only expansion we’ll see of Continental in Chicago is additional flying/larger aircraft to their existing hubs to help flow traffic.

  6. Zach says:

    Thanks, Cranky. I’m trying to stay with Star Alliance, since I like being able to use and get flexible miles on Lufthansa, Swiss, Singapore, etc. I already use Southwest domestically whenever possible (lots of family out west and friends in NY, so their LaGuardia service was one of the best pieces of news all year for me).

  7. JayB says:

    Cranky,

    You said there will be a thirty-minute turnaround (120p-150p) at HNL for one of the LAX flights. Isn’t that cutting it awfully close? Or, is there so much padding built into flight times these days that on-times are becoming/are a joke?

  8. CF says:

    JayB wrote:

    Cranky,
    You said there will be a thirty-minute turnaround (120p-150p) at HNL for one of the LAX flights. Isn’t that cutting it awfully close? Or, is there so much padding built into flight times these days that on-times are becoming/are a joke?

    It actually looks like it’s only that tight for a couple weeks. Beginning on March 28, it moves up to arriving at 1245p turning at 150p. So it’s possible that the first couple weeks will be really late or they’ll change as it gets closer.

  9. Brawny says:

    CF wrote:

    JayB wrote:
    Cranky,
    You said there will be a thirty-minute turnaround (120p-150p) at HNL for one of the LAX flights. Isn’t that cutting it awfully close? Or, is there so much padding built into flight times these days that on-times are becoming/are a joke?
    It actually looks like it’s only that tight for a couple weeks. Beginning on March 28, it moves up to arriving at 1245p turning at 150p. So it’s possible that the first couple weeks will be really late or they’ll change as it gets closer.

    The shift after two weeks is most likely the result of the extra hour gained as the mainland goes on Daylight Savings time and Hawaii stays on Standard time

  10. CF says:

    Brawny wrote:

    The shift after two weeks is most likely the result of the extra hour gained as the mainland goes on Daylight Savings time and Hawaii stays on Standard time

    But it’s not a 1 hour shift. Before March 28, the flight leaves at 1020a and arrives at 120p. Beginning that day, it shifts to a 950a departure with a 1245p arrival.

  11. oldiesfan6479 says:

    Any changes on March 28, 2010 have nothing to do with daylight-saving time at it begins on March 14 next year.

    And along with your addendum with the 738 placeholder disclaimer, a 1320 arrival won’t be the same plane that departs at 1350–the return will either route off of another inbound or the times themselves are also just placeholders and will be tweaked later.

    Heck, even Herb wouldn’t try a :30 turn in HNL on a transpac (if Herb was to do a transpac).

  12. CF says:

    oldiesfan6479 wrote:

    And along with your addendum with the 738 placeholder disclaimer, a 1320 arrival won’t be the same plane that departs at 1350–the return will either route off of another inbound or the times themselves are also just placeholders and will be tweaked later.

    I think they’re going to have to change the time on that, because they don’t have 737-900s coming from anywhere else. Orange County is a 737-700 and the Continental Micronesia operation is a 737-800. Considering that the timing works for a turn on March 28, I assume that’s what’s going to happen.

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