Posts: 296
Joined: Sun Jun 04, 2000 9:20 am

Continental Lite

Mon Sep 25, 2000 5:11 am

What happened to Continental Lite? Why was it such a miserable failure?

RE: Continental Lite

Mon Sep 25, 2000 5:15 am

Posts: 2172
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 12:16 pm

RE: Continental Lite

Mon Sep 25, 2000 5:16 am

It lost a lot of money so eventually it was dropped in favor of making everything just plain old Continental. It failed for several reasons. First off, choice of routes. At one time they operated like five flights a day from Charleston, SC to Norfolk, VA. There were a lot of crazy routes like that. Also, brand recognition. While USAirways has marketed MetroJet as a different airline for the most part, Continental did not. If it had not been for the fact that I read "Aviation Week & Space Technology" I would not have even known it existed as a seperate entity. They did not advertise it seperately, did not have a seperate reservations department, and did not have a dedicated group of employees. I was once told by a Flight Attendant the one day she would work on the Lite side and the next mainline. Passengers who were coming off a mainline jet and had been in the first class section, suddenly found themselves in a big cattle car. At the end, I think it was either get rid of it, or say goodbye to Continental.
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Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2000 4:22 am

RE: Continental Lite

Mon Sep 25, 2000 6:23 am

It was a terrible, insane choice of routes and pricing.
I remember it vividly. In Houston, then CO management must have been on something or another. . . . . . .
I also remember talking with someone from CO's management who explained it all to me at a college career fair long ago. They were seeking a revenue analyst intern for CAL Lite. He thought it was brilliant at the time. I was unconvinced. Scary.

I mean CO Lite flew St. Louis to Dayton, New Orleans to Greenville - Spartanburg, and Boston to Baltimore, and they even had close to HOURLY frequencies between Greensboro and Cleveland. My father (retired CO captain) flew a BOS-BWI leg that had 5 people on it once. All this capacity dumped into thin markets. I'm not joking, these were real routes with multiple frequencies. They thought revenue and passengers would abound if they charged $50 each way or some other ridiculously low fare on these flights I listed above. I remember one day mid week in January of 95, CO had a systemwide load factor of 35%.

Morale was at an all time low at the time. CO had implememented the new globe logo while they were pulling out of New Zealand and Australia and adding numerous flights to nothing markets. CEO Bob Ferguson thought at the time that only by flying routes where you were the dominant player, it was then you were successful. They were going to serve all the small point to point markets the big guys were ignoring. I remember Ferguson mailed a video outlining the "bold" strategy to the homes of all CO employees. I watched Ferguson explain why it was so smart to enter St. Louis - Dayton, for example, with all guns blazing to dominate that market. I guess they thought it was untapped or underdeveloped or something.

The idea of a hub at GSO isn't bad (in my opinion), but it was bad at the time. They built it up over night commencing unproven routes with questionable revenue potential and CO had no extra cash around to sustain any drain on unprofitable operations that were just starting up. CO needed to bolster it's other hubs since they closed the Denver hub and the other hubs had the untapped potential.
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Joined: Sat Jul 15, 2000 2:02 pm

RE: Continental Lite

Mon Sep 25, 2000 9:09 am

Good thing Gordon Bethune took over CO. They would have gone bankrupt without him.
Posts: 36
Joined: Sun Aug 20, 2000 8:49 am

RE: Continental Lite

Mon Sep 25, 2000 9:36 am

I think they shoult have done routes like this:

SFO-LAX hourly service

MCO-MIA hourly service

BOS-EWR hourly or LGA

ORD-DTW hourly service
Posts: 372
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 1999 11:25 am

RE: Continental Lite

Mon Sep 25, 2000 12:44 pm

Anyone have a copy of the routes? I would love to see one.

Posts: 6633
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 11:10 am

RE: Continental Lite

Mon Sep 25, 2000 12:50 pm

I'm pretty sure they flew A300s on at least 1 of the flights/day between Greensboro and Greenville at one point... I doubt they could even fill 1 B1900 a day on that route!
Posts: 2172
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 12:16 pm

RE: Continental Lite

Tue Sep 26, 2000 10:04 am

I thought the A300 never touched down at GSO although they had all the spare parts stored there. I once flew CALite from GSO to MCO and on the return from MCO to GSP and there was not one empty seat....both were packed.

RE: Continental Lite

Tue Sep 26, 2000 10:27 am

I believe I've toured a former Continental LITE DC-9-30 (N930BB operating as Southeast) and it had an all coach configuration, with the CO Checkered seats, unless F/C was removed. Before N930BB this was N521TX.

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