|Ceased operations||March 3, 2012 (merged with United Express)|
|Alliance||SkyTeam (affiliate; 2004-2009)
Star Alliance (affiliate; 2009-2012)
|Company slogan||A New Way to Move People.|
Continental Express was the operating brand name used by a number of independently owned regional airlines providing commuter airliner and regional jet feeder service under agreement with Continental Airlines. In 2012 at the time of the merger between Continental and United Airines, two carriers were operating using the Continental Express brand name:
- SkyWest, Inc.' carrier ExpressJet (206 aircraft, more than 90% of Continental Express flights)
- Republic Airways Holdings' carrier Chautauqua Airlines (14 aircraft, just under 10% of Continental Express flights)
Continental Express, operated by ExpressJet and Chautauqua, offered service to approximately 150 destinations in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, from Continental's hubs in Houston, Newark and Cleveland. ExpressJet operates as a Continental Express and United Express carrier, while Chautauqua also operated flights as Delta Connection, US Airways Express, Frontier Airlines, Midwest Connect, Trans World Express, America West Express, and American Connection. Continental Express operated more flights to Mexico more than any other airline from its hub George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
The "Continental Express" brand has ceased operations and renamed as United Express.
History of Continental Express
Continental Express/ExpressJet was at one time a wholly owned subsidiary of Continental Airlines, Inc. In this previous incarnation before its divestiture Continental Express flew turbo-prop aircraft such as the Beechcraft 1900, Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia, ATR 42/72, de Havilland Canada Dash 7, Fairchild F27, Embraer 110 Bandeirante and Convair 580. Continental Express/ExpressJet was formed through the merger of four separate commuter airlines that were wholly owned by Continental: Provincetown-Boston Airlines, of Hyannis, MA, Bar Harbor Airlines, of Bangor, ME, Britt Airways, of Terre Haute, IN, and Rocky Mountain Airways, of Denver, CO. As part of the consolidation of the four commuter operations, the PBA and Rocky Mountain operating certificates were retired. The Bar Harbor certificate went to Eastern Airlines for its Florida Eastern Express division. The combined company that became Continental Express/ExpressJet operated under the Britt Airways operating certificate until November 2011, at which time all ExpressJet operations became part of the Atlantic Southeast Airlines certificate. Continental Express also served Continental's Denver and Guam hubs until the early 1990s.
Continental Express was formed in 1986. Since the 1978 deregulation of the U.S. airline industry, U.S. carriers increasingly contracted flying to smaller destinations to small regional carriers; David Messing, a spokesperson with Continental Airlines Holdings in 1991, said that Continental Express was formed because, from a business standpoint, having one subsidiary airline for Continental was preferable to the previous scenario of numerous agreements with various smaller airlines.
On Thursday September 4, 1997, Continental Express had its first regional jet flight. On Sunday September 7, 1997 Continental Express moved its operations at Bush Intercontinental Airport from Terminal C to Terminal B.
In the past, Trans-Colorado Airlines of Denver, CO, Royale Airlines of Shreveport, LA, Air New Orleans, of Birmingham, AL, Mid-Pacific Airlines, of Honolulu, HI, City Express, of Toronto, Ontario, Colgan Airways, of Manassas, VA, Southern Jersey Airways, of Atlantic City New Jersey, and Gull Air, of Hyannis, MA, have operated non-jet aircraft using the Continental Express brand name.
Continental Connection and Continental Commuter
Continental Airlines had contracted with other airlines such as Cape Air, of Barnstable, MA, Colgan Air, of Manassas, VA, CommutAir, of South Burlington, VT, GP Express Airlines, of Grand Island, NE, Gulfstream International, of Dania Beach, FL, and SkyWest Airlines, of St. George, UT to operate non-jet aircraft as Continental Connection on short-haul routes beginning in the mid 1990s. The "Continental Connection" brand name was used to identify non-jet, hosted codeshare airlines, while "Continental Express" was used as the marketing name for regional jet hosted codeshare airlines.
American Eagle Airlines, of Los Angeles, CA also operated non-jet aircraft as a code-share on behalf of Continental Airlines but was not known as Continental Connection.
Pioneer Airlines of Denver, CO and Royale Airlines of Shreveport, LA operated as Continental Commuter carriers from 1983 through 1986 and were the first code-sharing feeder carrier's on behalf of Continental Airlines. Pioneer was the feeder at Continental's Denver hub but ceased operations in mid-1986. Royale was the feeder at the Houston hub and was reclassified as Continental Express by the fall of 1986.
Other Continental Subsidiary Airline Operations
Two additional airlines worthy to note here which operated in connection with Continental Airlines were New York Air, of New York, New York, and Continental West, of Los Angeles, CA. New York Air began operations in 1980 between Boston, New York/LaGuardia, and Washington/National, while Continental West started in 1985, operating an hourly shuttle between Los Angeles and San Jose. Both airlines were started by Continental's holding company, Texas Air, in an effort to operate low cost flights, and were both folded into Continental in 1986.
ExpressJet Holdings announced on December 28, 2005 that it received notice from Continental Airlines of its intention to reduce by 69 the number of aircraft ExpressJet will operate for Continental under the companies' capacity purchase agreement. Per the agreement, ExpressJet could return the aircraft to Continental, or lease them from Continental at a higher rate and operate as a regional feeder for another airline.
As announced by Continental, the withdrawal of aircraft from the agreement was expected to begin in January 2007 and be completed during summer 2007. Simultaneously, Continental announced its intention to request proposals from other regional carriers to lease and operate the returned aircraft, beginning in January 2007. Continental announced in April 2006 that Chautauqua Airlines had been awarded a contract to operate the 69 aircraft owned by Continental.
In July 2006, Continental Airlines announced a new contract, in which Chautauqua Airlines would provide and operate regional jets as a Continental Express carrier. As of 2009, Continental Express consists of 214 aircraft operated by ExpressJet Airlines, and 20 aircraft operated by Chautauqua Airlines. All Express flights are with small jet aircraft, however Continental Connection flights are with turboprops with as few as 9 seats.
By 2008 however, ExpressJet decided to end all of its independent flying and operate all flights once again as a Continental Express carrier until November 30, 2011.
- 34(1 written off) Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia (18 from Britt Airways)
- Embraer ERJ 145 (ExpressJet Airlines and Chautauqua Airlines)
- Embraer ERJ 145 XR (ExpressJet Airlines)
Incidents and accidents
- On January 19, 1988, Trans-Colorado Airlines Flight 2286, a Fairchild Metro III, crashed near Bayfield, Colorado, operated by Trans-Colorado Airlines. Both crew members and 7 of 15 passengers died. Of the surviving passengers one received major injuries and 6 received minor injuries, and one received no injuries.
- On September 11, 1991, Continental Express Flight 2574, flown by Britt Airways, was a scheduled domestic passenger flight from Laredo International Airport in Laredo, Texas to Houston Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas. The Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia crashed as it was descending towards Houston, killing all 14 people on board. An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board found that an improperly-maintained horizontal stabilizer failed during approach, causing a severe nose-down pitchover and breakup of the plane.
- Boisseau, Charles. "Crash in Colorado County/Express gives Continental a longer reach." Houston Chronicle. Thursday September 12, 1991. A13. Retrieved on August 23, 2009.
- World Airline Directory. Flight International. March 24–30, 1993. 84.
- World Airline Directory. Flight International. March 25–31, 1998. 63.
- World Airline Directory. Flight International. March 17–23, 1999. 71.
- Boisseau, Charles. "Continental Express starts its jet service/Flight comes days before move at Houston airport." Houston Chronicle. Friday September 5, 1997. Business 1. Retrieved on August 23, 2009.
- Continental picks Chautauqua for regional jets
- Mayday 'Breakup ove Texas'
- "TRANS-COLORADO AIRLINES, INC., FLIGHT 2286 FAIRCHILD METRO Ill, SA227 AC, N68TC BAYFIELD, COLORADO I JANUARY 19,1988," NTSB
- ASN Aircraft accident description Embraer 120RT Brasilia N33701 - Eagle Lake, TX