Posts Tagged ‘Continental Airlines

25
Jul
10

Families mark 10 years since Concorde crash

NEWS
Families mark 10 years since Concorde crash

Sunday, July 25, 2010

••• Ten years to the day after Concorde plunged from the skies near Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, victims of the tragedy have been remembered.

Families of the 113 people killed gathered at Gonesse just outside the French capital where the supersonic jet crashed onto a hotel after take-off.
All of the mainly German passengers on board the New York-bound flight perished alongside its Air France crew and four people on the ground.

The Concorde programme itself never recovered. The mythical aircraft was finally retired in 2003.
Controversy still surrounds what went wrong. The verdict in a manslaughter case is due in December.

Continental Airlines and five men went on trial amid claims a small metal strip from a Continental DC10 punctured the Concorde’s tyres on the runway. They all deny the charges against them.

Some defence lawyers argue the supersonic was on fire before it ran over the titanium strip.
» Related: Ten years on, French court asks who’s to blame for Concorde crash
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
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03
May
10

United Airlines and Continental merge to create world’s biggest operator

NEWS
United Airlines and Continental merge to create world’s biggest operator

Monday, May 03, 2010

••• Directors at Continental and United airlines have approved a deal that would combine them into the world’s largest airline, a source said.

The stock-swap deal values Continental at about $3.2 billion.

The Sunday board actions were described by a person with knowledge of the votes, who declined to be identified because the companies plan an announcement on Monday.

Combining Continental and United would leave the US with three big international airlines – the new United, Delta, and American. U.S. Airways Group Inc also flies internationally, but its 2009 international traffic was less than one-third the size of American’s.

The combined airline will be called United, based in United’s hometown of Chicago, and run by Continental CEO Jeffery Smisek. United CEO Glenn Tilton will be chairman.

United, a unit of UAL Corp, is the nation’s third-largest carrier by traffic. Continental Airlines Inc, in Houston, is the country’s fourth biggest.

Any deal would need the approval of antitrust regulators. The Justice Department approved Delta Air Lines Inc’s purchase of Northwest in 2008, which turned Delta into the world’s biggest carrier.

Another key issue in putting the two airlines together will be integrating the pilot workforce.

A union hot line message to United pilots on Sunday said the ‘union remains engaged in this issue, and if a merger is announced by United and Continental’, union officials ‘are fully prepared to protect and defend the interests of all United pilots’.

Continental and United both trace their roots to air services founded by Walter Varney in the 1920s and 30s.

One of United’s main attractions is its Pacific routes, which it bought from Pan-Am in 1985. It was already the biggest carrier in the U.S., and the Pan-Am deal made it a major international carrier for the first time. Northwest’s Pacific routes were one reason Delta pursued that deal two years ago.

Continental jumped in size in 1987 by swallowing Frontier, People Express and New York Air.

Both airlines shrank to cope with the recession. United cut capacity 7.4 percent last year, and Continental shrank 5.2 percent.

And they’ve both been losing money. Continental reported a 2009 loss of $282 million as revenue plunged 17.4 percent to $12.59 billion. UAL lost $651 million for the year as revenue fell 19.1 percent to $16.34 billion.

The market capitalisation for UAL Corp on Friday was $3.62 billion, while Continental’s was $3.12 billion.

Just two years ago, American Airlines was the nation’s biggest carrier. First Delta surpassed it, and now United might. More than pride is at stake. Corporate travellers gravitate toward airlines with the most routes.

On April 8, when there was talk that United and U.S. Airways were discussing a deal, American CEO Gerard Arpey said the company was ‘not in any way threatened’ by the merger talk involving other carriers.

‘We think we’re in a very good position irrespective of what may happen,’ he said at the time.

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10
Mar
10

Ten years on, French court asks who’s to blame for Concorde crash

NEWS
Ten years on, French court asks who’s to blame for Concorde crash

February 03, 2010

••• U.S. airline Continental and three French aviation officials went on trial outside Paris on Tuesday in connection with the July 2000 crash of an Air France Concorde leaving Charles de Gaulle airport in which 113 people died.

Nearly a decade after Air France Concorde Flight 4590 crashed shortly after take-off, effectively grounding the legendary supersonic aircraft, the trial of five people in connection with the crash got underway at a specially enlarged courtroom in a Parisian suburb on Tuesday to re-examine the causes of one of aviation’s most high-profile disasters.

U.S. airline Continental, along with two of its employees and three French aviation officials, face charges of manslaughter for the deaths of 113 people in the accident. The victims included 100 passengers, most of them German holidaymakers, as well as nine crew members and four hotel staffers, who were killed when the aircraft rammed into a hotel 1.25 miles from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport after catching fire as it left the ground.

The July 25, 2000, Concorde crash marked a bitter milestone in the history of commercial supersonic flight. After briefly resuming service after the crash, Air France and British Airways suspended their transatlantic supersonic service in April 2003.

Conflicting explanations

Tuesday’s trial is set to examine conflicting accounts of the causes of the crash. The official explanation for the tragic accident is that the aircraft’s undercarriage tyre exploded after rolling over an 18-inch strip of titanium that dropped onto the runway from a Continental Airways plane that took off just before the Concorde. The burst tyre penetrated a fuel tank in the left wing, causing a fire, a loss of power and ultimately the crash.

Continental Airlines is under fire for using titanium, a metal much harder than aluminium or stainless steel, for a temporary repair on one if its aircraft, which is a breach of security rules. Two of its ground staff in Paris, John Taylor and Stanley Fort, are accused of ignoring the titanium ban to complete the repair job.

Continental, however, rejects these accusations, claiming that several witnesses saw the Concorde catch fire 2,600 feet (800 metres) before it reached the part of the runway where the titanium strip fell.

“There is no dispute over the immediate causes of the accident. What muddies the waters in this case are the alleged safety problems of Concorde’s actual design. There were 65 instances of burst tyres on Concorde planes before the fatal crash,” says Christopher Moore, speaking from outside the courtroom.

In press interviews prior to the trial, Continental’s main defence lawyer, Olivier Metzner, said investigators had ignored evidence to “obscure the truth”. Metzner instead claimed that a mistake in the repairing of the Concorde’s undercarriage caused the burst tyre and the subsequent crash.

Air France lawyers maintain that Continental is solely to blame for the crash.

The design of the aircraft itself is also in question, with two Concorde engineers (Henri Perrier, 80, and Jacques Herubel, 74) accused of deliberately playing down or ignoring evidence of weaknesses in the aircraft’s tyres and wing fuel tanks to keep the pride of French and British aviation in the air.

Claude Frantzen, director of technical services at the French Civil Aviation Authority, or DGAC, from 1970 to 1994, faces similar charges.

“You could say that the entire Concorde project itself, once the pride of the British andFrench aviation industries, is in the dock,” Moore says.

A successful prosecution would result in a maximum fine of 375,000 euros for the airline and up to five years in jail and a fine of up to 75,000 euros for the individuals involved.

Hefty compensation

The trial has also put a focus on the compensation and criminal charges resulting from air disasters.

According to news reports, Air France, Concorde manufacturer EADS, Continental Airlines and tyre-manufacturing company Goodyear jointly paid the families of the victims 100 million dollars in compensation.

The families of the four hotel staff, which the airline’s insurance refused to cover, received no compensation. They have pressed charges, as has the family of Concorde pilot Christian Marty.


» Related: Families mark 10 years since Concorde crash
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
• Source(s): France 24, INA, AFP and APTN
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