updated 3/31/2005 9:44:06 AM ET 2005-03-31T14:44:06

Continental Airlines flight attendants rejected a tentative deal to cut wages and benefits, but the nation's fifth-largest carrier said it would implement concessions approved by other unions including those representing pilots and mechanics.

Continental said early Thursday it would continue discussions with flight attendants, noting that their "current levels of pay and benefits for flight attendants are not sustainable."

"The unions with ratified agreements have chosen to go forward and implement their contracts despite the flight attendants' failure to ratify," the Houston-based airline said.

Joseph Tiberi, spokesman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents Continental's flight attendants, said a majority of the airline's 9,000 flight attendants who voted had rejected the 45-month concession deal.

Continental announced the tentative 45-month pacts last month and said they called for $331 million in cuts in all.

The deals approved by the other unions along with $169 million (euro130 million) in previously disclosed wage and benefit cuts affecting nonunion employees would produce about $418 million of the carrier's goal to cut costs by $500 million to combat continued losses and soaring jet fuel prices.

Nearly 93 percent of the airline's 3,948 eligible pilots voted, with 58.4 percent in favor and 41.6 percent opposed, the Air Line Pilots Association said in a release posted on its Web site. But the pilots' union had said final acceptance of its deal hinged on all other employee groups approving similar concessionary contracts.

The airline's mechanics approved their proposed pact with 72 percent in favor and 28 percent opposed, said Don Treichler, director of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters' airline division.

The airline warned this month that if the unions hadn't ratified the pacts by Wednesday, Continental would have had to cut another $300 million, shrink its fleet, furlough workers and cancel new jet orders.

Continental has 41,000 employees.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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