Continental Micronesia, Inc. (CMI) was a company which was a wholly owned subsidiary of Continental Airlines. It operated daily flights to Honolulu, Hawaii, as well as international services to Asia, Micronesia and Australia from its base of operations at Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport on Guam, a U.S. territory in the western Pacific Ocean. During its final years, the airline, a Delaware corporation, was headquartered in the old terminal building at Won Pat International Airport and in Tamuning, Guam.
|Founded||1968 (as Air Micronesia)|
|Commenced operations||May 16, 1968|
|Ceased operations||Brand ended in 2012 (rebranded United Airlines)|
Subsidiary merged into United on April 1, 2017
|Hubs||Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport (Guam)|
|Alliance||SkyTeam (affiliate; 2004-2009)|
|Headquarters||Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport|
Tamuning, Guam (U.S.)
|Website||Archived official website at the Wayback Machine (archive index)|
On December 22, 2010, as a result of the Continental-United Airlines merger, the FAA approved the combination of Continental Micronesia's air carrier operations with Continental's under the single Part 121 operating certificate of Continental; although Continental Micronesia remained as a corporation, all flights were then operated directly by Continental Airlines. This step was intended to simplify future integration steps between Continental and United. The callsign, ICAO and IATA codes were changed to reflect the new operating certificate.
As of 2012 the Continental Micronesia employee group, now a subset of United Continental Holdings, had 1,222 employees. The subsidiary was merged into United effective April 1, 2017. On Thursday June 27, 2019 the subsidiary's parent company name was changed from United Continental Holdings to United Airlines Holdings.
Continental Micronesia flights used the regular Continental "CO" code on ticketing systems and for frequent-flyer benefit accounting, but used its ICAO code "CMI" and callsign "Air Mike" with air traffic control authorities. In airport terminals, Continental Micronesia flights were listed separately (from Continental) with its IATA code "CS". During the final decade, three airports had both "Air Mike" and mainline Continental present: Hong Kong, Tokyo and Honolulu.
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The airline was established by Continental and other regional shareholders in the former U.S. Trust Territory and started operations on May 16, 1968, as Air Micronesia, hence the nickname and callsign "Air Mike". Service was started with a Boeing 727-100, number 475, which was nicknamed "Ju-Ju," and a Douglas DC-6. It also operated two Grumman SA-16/ HU-16 Albatross amphibians to fly from Chuuk (Truk) to Pohnpei (Ponape), until an airfield could be built that could accommodate the 727. The 727's underside was coated with teflon, due to it having to operate on coral runways. Additionally, the plane had to carry spare parts and a mechanic, as well as open-water survival gear and (beginning in 1975) onboard doppler radar, then a rarity. The airline also operated Boeing 727-100 Combi aircraft models which were capable of transporting freight pallets on the main deck of the jetliner just aft of the cockpit in addition to passengers seated in the rear coach compartment. By 1983, Continental Micronesia was operating all-passenger Boeing 727-100 and 727-200 aircraft in addition to mixed passenger/freight 727-100 Combi aircraft from its Guam hub.
William H. Stewart of the Saipan Tribune stated that the airline's foundation "in particular" "was probably the single most important factor in the future development of what were once remote and isolated islands in the Pacific." Stewart added that the jets "distorted the traveler's impression of time and distance and brought the islands closer to major market areas in Asia." The airline had a virtual monopoly in the Micronesia region. In the 1970s, each district that the airline flew to had an entirely Micronesian employee base, with the exception of Saipan, which housed the airline's headquarters. William H. Stewart of the Saipan Tribune said the airline "was the only travel link many had with the world beyond the horizon."
In the early 1980s the airline started service from Guam to Japan. As Continental's share and roles in Air Mike changed, the airline's name became "Continental Air Micronesia." Eventually, Continental owned 100% of Air Mike, which at one point provided the only scheduled service directly between Guam and any point in the 50 United States (namely, to/from Honolulu, Hawaii) although other airlines, notably Pan Am, Braniff International and South Pacific Island Airways, had attempted to provide nonstop service between Guam and Honolulu.
Before being headquartered in Guam, Continental Micronesia was headquartered in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands. As time passed, the airline's Saipan traffic decreased due to the 1986 breakup of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, which was subdivided into smaller political units. Because of the breakup, fewer people needed to travel to Saipan, which was the capital of the trust territory.
2000 to 2009Edit
As of 2004 most of the airline's employees were Guam-based, due to the location of the corporate headquarters and the airline's main hub. By 2005 Continental Micronesia's business on the island of Saipan had decreased, prompting layoffs in Saipan.
Massachusetts-based Cape Air began services in the Mariana Islands under the Continental Connection banner on July 1, 2004. Soon afterward, Continental Micronesia eliminated most jet services to Saipan in favor of Cape Air's smaller-sized aircraft and increased frequency.
In 2008 Continental Micronesia generated profits. Chad Blair of the Pacific Business News said that the airline did so because it "nurtured" its "niche" Guam-Honolulu route. In addition Japanese tourists, wanting to save money, decided to travel to locations closer to Japan for vacation, so Continental Micronesia gained Japanese passengers. As of that year the airline's annual payroll in Guam was $90 million ($104,731,066 when adjusted for inflation).
A Houston Chronicle article in May 2008 stated that expected subsequent military buildup and population growth could lead to an expansion of Continental Micronesia flights to and from Guam. However, on June 12, 2008, Continental's announcement of cuts of services, routes and destinations due to high fuel prices  included termination of flights to Hong Kong (which has since resumed) and Bali. Also among the cuts is the termination of the Saipan-Manila flights on July 15 which is the last remaining Air Mike flight for Saipan, the airline's original hub 40 years ago. According to an opinion columnist for of the Saipan Tribune, the “declared” reason for the cancellation of the Saipan-Manila route was the fact that NCLEX tests were now available in Manila, so Filipino nurses no longer had to travel to Saipan to take the test. Before the flight's cancellation, the flight also served medical referrals from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to Manila and non-USA visa alien contract workers who were unable to transit to their final destinations via Guam; the author opined that the alien workers “particularly were Air Micronesia’s captive audience.” With only Continental Connection/Cape Air services left, Continental closed its Saipan city ticket office on the same day.
2010 and beyondEdit
The United-Continental merger resulted in the elimination of Continental Micronesia's operating certificate as the new entity worked towards a single operating certificate (SOC). The combination of Continental Micronesia's operating certificate into Continental's was approved on December 22, 2010.
United Airlines announced on March 22, 2017 that the "paper" merger would be completed on April 1, 2017 that would officially fold Continental Micronesia into United Airlines. Since the merger of United and Continental and up until then it was run as a subsidiary of United Continental Holdings.
Beside providing transportation within Micronesia and between the region and the United States, Continental Micronesia flew to cities in Japan (the region's main source of tourists) and other Pacific Rim destinations.
The airline flew to nine Japanese cities, more than any other U.S. carrier. The airline also operated a five stop "island-hopper" route between Honolulu and Guam. The 4,300-mile (6,900 km) route had an average duration of 14 hours and 10 minutes. Due to the special requirements of the route, each aircraft flying on this route houses an extra pilot, an extra flight attendant, a mechanic, and extra spare parts in case of a mechanical failure. Historically the airline received little competition on the "island-hopper" route. Continental Micronesia provided the only scheduled jet service in the Federated States of Micronesia and Majuro, Marshall Islands. The airline's route network linked to the network of its parent company at Honolulu, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, and Newark.
Due to small island populations and the corresponding amount of passenger traffic, many of Continental Micronesia's routes were flown less than daily (some as infrequent as twice weekly). The only routes with daily flights were between Guam and Fukuoka, Honolulu, Manila, Nagoya, Palau, and Tokyo.
As of early 2010, Continental Micronesia operated 12 Boeing 737 and 4 Boeing 767-400 aircraft (in Pacific Configuration) from Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport on Guam. The aircraft were all owned by Continental Airlines and were rotated to Continental Micronesia.
|Boeing 737-700||4||12||112||124||N13720 is painted in Star Alliance livery|
|Boeing 767-400ER||4||20||236||256||All have rotated out to the U.S. mainland in favor of UA Boeing 777-200 (Domestic configuration) service.|
Accidents and incidentsEdit
- On November 21, 1980, Air Micronesia Flight 614, operated by a Boeing 727-100C registered N18479, crashed while landing at Yap International Airport on the island of Yap in Micronesia. The aircraft landed heavily 13 feet (4 m) short of the airport's runway and the right landing gear was torn off. The Boeing 727 then slid along the runway, gradually veering off the side into the jungle. It stopped about 1,700 feet (520 m) from the touchdown point and a fire broke out which destroyed the aircraft. All of the 67 passengers and 6 crew members on board evacuated the burning aircraft and survived the accident.
- Norwood, Tom; Wegg, John (2002). North American Airlines Handbook (3rd ed.). Sandpoint, ID: Airways International. ISBN 0-9653993-8-9. Archived from the original on 2016-11-28. Retrieved 2017-04-28.
- Continental Airlines To Leave SkyTeam To Join Star Alliance Archived 2008-06-28 at the Wayback Machine (Official Press Release: June 19, 2008)
- "Docket No. SDWA-06-2005-1516." () United States Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved on February 5, 2009.
- "Commission File Number 0-9781." (Archive) Continental Airlines. February 8, 2002. "[...]together with our wholly owned subsidiaries, ExpressJet Airlines, Inc. (formerly Continental Express, Inc. and referred to in this Form 10-K as "ExpressJet") and Continental Micronesia, Inc. ("CMI"), each a Delaware corporation,[...]"
- Flight International 3 April 2007
- "Docket OST-00[permanent dead link]." United States Department of Transportation. March 27, 2000. Retrieved on May 20, 2009.
- Letter. () United States Department of Transportation Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings. May 23, 1997. Retrieved on October 4, 2010. "Continental Micronesia Old Terminal Bldg. P.O. Box 8778-G Tamuning, GU 96931-8778."
- "Company Information." () United Continental Holdings. Retrieved on November 16, 2012.
- "United Airlines Strips 'Continental' from parent company's name". Retrieved 29 June 2019.
- "GAO-10-778T Issues Raised by the Proposed Merger of United and Continental Airlines." Government Accountability Office. Page 4. Retrieved on October 7, 2010.
- http://www.departedflights.com, July 1, 1983 Worldwide Edition, Official Airline Guide (OAG), Honolulu flight schedules for Continental Micronesia
- http://www.departedflights.com, July 1, 1983 Worldwide Edition, Official Airline Guide (OAG), Guam flight schedules for Continental Micronesia
- Stewart, William H. "The NMI's recent economic history Archived March 23, 2012, at the Wayback Machine." Saipan Tribune. Wednesday May 18, 2005. Retrieved on October 13, 2010.
- Vergara, Jaime R. "Celebrating the de-inauguration of CO 895." (Opinion page) Saipan Tribune. Monday July 21, 2008. Retrieved on November 3, 2016.
- International Organization and Conference Series, Issues 107-111. United States Department of State. Supt. of Docs., U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1972. 85. Retrieved from Google Books on October 14, 2010. "In each district, except Air Micronesia's headquarters at Saipan, all Air Micronesia employees are Micronesian."
- Stewart, William H. "A different time and place Archived 2013-11-04 at the Wayback Machine." Saipan Tribune. Monday April 19, 2010. Retrieved on October 14, 2010.
- http://www.departedflights.com, July 1, 1983 Worldwide Edition, Official Airline Guide (OAG), Guam-Honolulu flight schedules
- http://www.departedflights.com, July 1, 1979 Braniff International route map
- "World Airline Directory." Flight International. March 30, 1985. 47." Retrieved on June 17, 2009. "PO Box 298, Saipan, Mariana Islands 96950, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands."
- "Fiscal Year 2003 Overview." () Guam International Airport Authority at Guam Chamber of Commerce. 3/4. Retrieved on October 13, 2010. "Movement of Operations from Commuter Terminal to Main Terminal As part of our streamlining, the Authority successfully moved the Commuter Terminal operations to the Main Terminal and leased the entire former Commuter Terminal to Continental Airlines."
- "VOICE of the people." (Opinion Page) Pacific Daily News. October 20, 2004. Opinion A19. Retrieved on October 13, 2010. "Since our headquarters and hub is located in Guam, most of the airline's employees are based here."
- Delano, Gaynor Dumat-ol. "Continental to downsize Oct. 4." Pacific Daily News. September 21, 2005. Local A1. Retrieved on October 13, 2010.
- Kerrigan, Kevin. "Guam Will Be The Pacific Hub for Merged Airlines Archived 2010-05-11 at the Wayback Machine." Pacific News Center. Wednesday May 5, 2010. Retrieved on October 5, 2010. "Continental Micronesia is Guam's single largest employer. About 14-hundred jobs here on dependant on the airline."
- "Continental Micronesia's press release template, January 2008." Marianas Variety News & Views. Archived 2013-01-11 at Archive.today
- Blair, Chad. "'Air Mike' a rare bright spot in local aviation." Pacific Business News. Friday May 30, 2008. Retrieved on October 12, 2010. "Thirty percent of the airline's business comes from its 4,300-mile island-hopper route, which begins in Honolulu, makes five stops and ends -- 14 hours and 10 minutes later -- in Hagatna, Guam's capital city."
- Hensel, Bill Jr. "TRANSPORTATION / Carrier stands to gain in Guam / Pacific island expects a population influx as military realigns its forces, and Continental's hub will be there to handle it." Houston Chronicle. Friday May 30, 2008. Business 1. Retrieved on October 2, 2009.
- Continental Micronesia To Cut Flights To Bali, Hong Kong And Manila, Pacific Magazine Daily News, June 13, 2008[permanent dead link]
- Deposa, Moneth G. Continental shuts down Saipan office." Marianas Variety News & Views. July 17, 2008. Retrieved on February 25, 2009.
- United to transition to Continental operating certificate as part of merger | ATWOnline
- "2007 ANNUAL REPORT TO STOCKHOLDERS." Continental Airlines. 1. Retrieved on June 16, 2010.
- Aircraft for Continental Micronesia
- "Our Fleet" as of February 2, 1999, Continental Airlines
- NTSB Accident Report
- Accident description for Air Micronesia Boeing 727-92C registration N18478 at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 16 August 2015.