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Follows earlier furloughs in Guam tourism industry

HAGATNA, Guam (Marianas Business Journal, August 17, 2009) – Continental Micronesia let go 25 Guam employees in early August, the Journal has learned.

The company declined to confirm or furnish details, and Guam-based officials referred inquiries to its office in Japan.

The Continental furloughs follow those earlier in the year at DFS Guam, hotels in Guam, and ongoing reduction of hours in the hospitality industry in Guam.

Tokyo-based Koji Nagata, corporate communications executive for the Asia/Pacific for Continental Airlines Inc., told the Journal by e-mail, "As a wholly owned subsidiary of Continental Airlines, Continental Micronesia is also participating in savings and revenue-generating initiatives. The elimination of approximately 1,700 positions will be across the company, including management and clerical positions, as stated in our news release."

He was referring to a July 21 release, in which Continental reported a second quarter 2009 loss of $213 million, and a net loss of $169 million. It attributed those results to a downturn in the lucrative business-travel sector, or the conversion of those travelers to economy passengers. Additional factors, Continental said in its release, were the H1N1 flu virus and fuel expense.

The airline also said in the release it was "implementing a number of measures to raise revenues and reduce costs," which include an increase in charges for domestic baggage and booking fees.

No furloughs have yet been confirmed by the Journal for other Micronesia locations. In Saipan, travel industry experts said furloughs were unlikely at the airline, which reintroduced flights on the Saipan-Tokyo route with two daily flights from July 18 that will continue through Sept. 23, using a Boeing 737.

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