Continental to terminate up to 500 jobs

February 7, 2011 4:26:31 PM PST
When Continental and United airlines announced they would merge, we knew some local employees would lose their jobs. Now Eyewitness News has learned the number is 500. Those jobs will primarily be in downtown Continental offices. Officials say they will be managerial and administrative positions.

The Texas Workforce Commission received a letter on January 31, warning of the layoffs as is required under federal law for companies laying off large groups of people. In this case, United Continental says it's as many as 500 people. Those positions will be terminated starting April 1. That date, United Continental spokesperson Julie King says is tied to the company's commitment to pay management and clerical employees through the end of March.

Continental and United closed a deal in October that created the world's largest airline and moves the company's headquarters to Chicago.

King said, "We continue to work through decisions on departmental locations, and will maintain a significant presence in Houston, with operations at Bush Intercontinental Airport being the carrier's largest hub city."

Workforce Solutions, a company which helps those who are out of work find new jobs, says it will be helping those laid off here as well.

Sue Cruver with Workforce Solutions said, "We're talking probably executive jobs, maybe some administrative jobs, as far as we know. We have not talked directly with Continental yet, so we don't know specifically what their needs are going to be."

Greater Houston Partnership President Jeff Moseley said, "The loss of these jobs was not unexpected. Ultimately, the Greater Houston Partnership is confident that the merger between United and Continental will result in a positive net growth in jobs for our region."

He notes that Bush Intercontinental Airport will be the largest hub of the world's largest airline.

United Continental says there will be minimal impact on front-line employees such as ground crews and pilots. The airline is hoping to have a single operating certificate by some time later this year.