Continental Airlines Sees Loss in First Quarter

NEW YORK (AP) -- Continental Airlines Inc., the nation's fifth biggest carrier, expects to have a loss for the first quarter and repeated its forecast that it will have a significant loss for all of 2005, the carrier said in a regulatory filing.

The airline also said in the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commssion that it does not currently have any fuel hedges in place, a move that has protected other carriers from escalating jet fuel prices.

Its said in the filing that March domestic bookings are strong. Domestic bookings for April are running slightly behind a year ago, however.

Continental said it expects cash expenditures during the quarter of $200 million, and anticipates ending the period with an unrestricted cash and short-term investments balance of $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion. Debt principal and capital lease payments for the first quarter are seen at about $110 million, the company said.

Houston-based Continental, which is trying to shave $500 million a year in costs, announced tentative 45-month pacts with unions.

Earlier this week, Continental said it would slash $300 million in salaries and benefits, shrink its fleet, furlough workers and cancel new jet orders if unions representing pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and dispatchers don't ratify the new agreements.

In its annual regulatory filing on Tuesday Continental said it would have a ''significant loss'' for 2005, but said its projected cash flows and reserves will be sufficient to carry it through the year if its employee unions approve the cuts.

The company said in the latest filing that it expects ratification of new labor contracts by the end of March.

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