Continental Delays Auckland Flight on Boeing 787 Delay

Continental Airlines postponed the November 2011 start of Houston-Auckland service until sometime in 2012 because of an expected additional delay in delivery of Boeing Co.’s 787.

Continental, a unit of United Continental Holdings Inc., declined to say today when it expects to receive its first 787 following Boeing’s decision to revise its production schedule after a fire on a test jet. Continental originally was to receive its first 787 Dreamliner in March 2009.

The Houston-based carrier was the first U.S. customer for the 787, which has been delayed by parts shortages, redesigns and Boeing’s greater reliance on suppliers. Delta Air Lines Inc. said in October it would defer deliveries of 18 787s into the next decade.

“In anticipation of Boeing advising us of further delays, we’re going to push the service to 2012,” Julie King, a Continental spokeswoman, said of the Houston-Auckland flight. “Commencement of the service does depend on delivery of the 787.”

Continental, which has ordered 25 Dreamliners, is in regular talks with Boeing about the aircraft and expects to receive more information on a new delivery schedule by early next year, King said.

The airline intends to begin flights between Houston and Lagos, Nigeria, on Nov. 10 with a Boeing 777 instead of a 787 as originally planned. The Houston-Auckland flight was set to begin on Nov. 16 and hadn’t been put up for purchase yet.

“We’re committed to the route, but it works with a 787, given that it’s the right-sized aircraft to meet the demand in the market,” King said.

The Houston Chronicle reported the Auckland service delay earlier today.

United Continental Holdings slid 69 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $27.04 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

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