Continental Airlines today became the world’s first airline to announce where it will fly the first of its new Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
The Houston-based carrier, which may be merged with United Airlines by next year, said it will inaugurate a route from its Houston hub to Auckland, New Zealand. The 7,400-mile route will be the longest flight on Continental’s schedule.
Continental will receive the first of its 25 Dreamliners in the fall of 2011. The first Houston-Auckland flight is set for Nov. 16, 2011.
The mid-sized, twin-engine Dreamliner was designed for just such long, thin routes allowing non-stop flights to cities that are not large hubs.
The Dreamliner has the range of a 747 but carries about 60 percent of the passenger load.
Continental will be the third airline in the world and the first in the United States to take delivery of the revolutionary aircraft. The 787 is the first airliner built largely of composite materials.
It is designed to be about 20 percent less costly to fly than present-generation mid-sized jets. Its design allows big windows, a lower cabin altitude and a quieter ride for passengers.
Two other airlines, Air New Zealand and Qantas, connect the U.S. to New Zealand non-stop. Those airlines fly non-stop from Los Angeles and San Francisco to New Zealand.