updated 1/30/2006 3:58:03 PM ET 2006-01-30T20:58:03

Flight attendants for Continental Airlines Inc. have approved an agreement that calls for $72 million in labor concessions, according to the airline and the union.

Continental said it was told late Sunday that the deal was approved after flight attendants voted in Houston, Cleveland and Newark, N.J. Union leaders were expected to certify the results Tuesday.

The flight attendants were the last major group of Continental employees to approve concessions to the airline, which lost $68 million last year.

The other groups, including pilots and mechanics, had already approved $418 million in concessions. When added to $10 million from international employees, the flight attendants agreement will fulfill the company’s goal set in late 2004 to cut annual labor costs by $500 million, said spokeswoman Julie King.

District 142 of the International Association of Machinists, which represents the flight attendants, will certify the results of the poll and issue an official statement on Tuesday, King said. Continental has about 8,600 flight attendants.

The agreement allows attendants keep their current pay longer than under deals that Continental reached with other unions. It also has a no-furlough clause and includes language to allow the crews to rest more. It enhances participation in profit-sharing and stock-option plans.

Continental, the nation’s fifth-largest carrier, also agreed to contribute to the IAM national pension plan at the discretion of the IAM and the Continental flight attendant membership.

On its Web site, the union said federal mediators had indicated that if the agreement were not ratified they would ask both sides to submit to arbitration. If either side refused, that could start a 30-day countdown toward a strike unless the president intervened.

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