"Continental demand soars
Continental Airlines was seeing a strong rebound in demand on its non-stop flights between Hong Kong and New York, the United States carrier said yesterday.
Continental Asia Pacific division president Mark Erwin said tomorrow's flight, the first since services were suspended in April due to Sars, was more than 90 per cent full.
The airline's vice-president for sales and promotions, Wally Diaz, said passenger loads on the remaining flights this month were an average of about 85-86 per cent. ``We are also seeing double-digit year-on-year growth in passenger loads in September. It's encouraging for us,'' he said.
Diaz said passengers on the four weekly services this month ``are substantially leisure, while in September it is more business travellers. We sold more business traffic in September than we did last year''.
The high-load factors this month were helped by a Continental promotion in June that was sold out within days.
``Compared with last year, we are seeing a slight increase in passenger numbers as well as the initial signs that this trend will continue through to the end of this year,'' Erwin said.
Outlining the impact of the Sars epidemic on the airline's operations, Diaz said it ``put plans to expand capacity in Asia on hold''.
He added the airline would ``see how demand responds over the next few months before we decide whether to reconsider the expansion plans''.
Erwin said despite Sars, Continental was still keen to fly to the mainland. "