DALLAS (AP) -- Continental Airlines Inc., the nation's fifth biggest carrier, said Thursday it must achieve its goal of cutting $500 million in wages and benefits by Feb. 28 or face a liquidity crisis that could result in layoffs and reductions in its fleet.
Like most other major U.S. carriers, Continental has been losing money for three years and is trying to cut costs to deal with rising fuel costs and fare wars that have cut into revenue.
In November, Continental told employees of its plan to cut $500 million in labor costs. A Continental spokeswoman, Julie King, said Thursday that the airline had achieved $70 million of the cuts by winning concessions from employees in reservations, food service, clerical and other groups.
Executives, including new CEO Larry Kellner, have taken salary and bonus cuts of 20 to 25 percent, according to the company.
Continental's announcement seemed likely to put more pressure on pilots, flight attendants and mechanics to agree to cuts in wages and benefits.