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SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (July 1, 1999 - Saipan Tribune)---Continental Airlines has announced plans to begin operating four new Boeing 737-800 aircraft from Guam beginning October 1999. The aircraft are the first of nine new generation 737s scheduled to be delivered to Guam during the next 15 months.

The 737s initially will replace four Boeing 757s. The remaining deliveries will replace five Boeing 727s. The deliveries are part of Continental's fleet rejuvenation plan, which will ultimately result in all new Boeing aircraft for the Guam operation and one of the youngest fleets in the Pacific.

The 737s will seat 155 passengers, with 14 first class and 141 coach class seats, allowing replacement of the 727s without any loss in capacity.

The new aircraft have greater range capability, fly faster and have a video entertainment system, according to Continental Micronesia. They are also more fuel-efficient, have greater reliability and are easier to maintain.

The 737s will allow Continental to efficiently serve the smaller population markets in Japan and elsewhere. The new aircraft may also allow increased frequencies in markets with less than daily service when market conditions improve.

"We are very excited about the new Boeing 737," said Bill Meehan, President of Continental Micronesia. "The aircraft are much more capable than the Boeing 727 and will allow Continental Airlines to offer a better product to our customers."

Numerous schedule adjustments will be made as a result of the introduction of the new 737s into the Pacific system. These schedule adjustments will increase seats by 11 percent over the previous year for the effected cities.

"As we have stated before, Continental remains committed to the market and will increase capacity when faced with a credible increase in passenger demand," said Meehan.

Flights to Sendai and Hong Kong will be increased by one flight per week beginning November 1, 1999. Flights to Sapporo and Niigata will also be increased by one flight per week and to Fukuoka by two flights per week beginning in December.

The 737 will begin serving the Taipei market in December 1999.

As a result of the redeployment of 757s, Continental will suspend service to Noumea, New Caledonia on October 1, 1999.

In addition to the new 737 aircraft, Continental will redeploy an additional DC-10 to Guam in December 1999 as a result of increased demand from the Japan market. The aircraft will be used to upgrade daily morning flights to Nagoya. It also will operate four times a week to Manila.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT

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