Gordon Bethune, CEO of Continental Airlines

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, September 15, 2003, that was edited for clarity.

Watch Your World w/Cavuto weekdays at 4 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, one would think a storm like this would cripple air travel when it hits. So how are the nation’s airlines planning for Hurricane Isabel? Let’s ask the man who runs one of the largest on the planet. Continental Airlines’ Gordon Bethune joins us from Washington.

Gordon, think you for coming.


CAVUTO: How are things looking in terms of preparation?

BETHUNE: Oh, we’re watching the same program you are and getting ready. We go through this all the time. We’re going to fly where it’s not, I assure you of that, but it could disrupt air travel for a couple of days. It looks like it’s very serious.

CAVUTO: All right. Now, obviously, your Newark hub, New Jersey, seems to be right in the track of the storm. Well, do you in an event like that move planes, shift them around, what?

BETHUNE: Sure. Sure. We evacuate the airplanes out of the area and generally batten down the hatches, as you would expect. I think we’ve gone through this. We’re out in the Pacific, you know, with the typhoons in Guam, so we’ve got a lot of experience in our operation control center, going to stay real close to the National Weather Center, and then react accordingly.

CAVUTO: All right. Now the fact that this could affect much of the East Coast, Gordon -- how do you plan for something like that? That’s a good hub of activity for you across the board.

BETHUNE: Well, it’s a revenue offset, Neil, certainly, you know, like the major winter storms that close airports. So, when you can’t fly there, you’ve got to give the money back, which is always a problem, and the expenses don’t change. But, other than that, it’s just kind of part of being in the airline business. You’ve got to have some good days and some bad days -- let’s hope this thing turns north and misses us all.

CAVUTO: All right. Now, meanwhile, military preparations are such that ships or planes that are in harm’s way have been told to move out of harm’s way. At this point, you’re not doing anything like that?

BETHUNE: No, we can react pretty quickly. We’ve got pretty professional men and women who have been through it before, and, quite frankly, we had a hurricane, I guess, smaller pass 90 miles from Houston here a few months back, and we actually ran a hundred percent day. So we’re going to play it safe, but we’re going to do -- we’re going to fly if we can fly.

CAVUTO: All right. Now, for people who are trying to check on flight status as the week wears on, how is that being done?

BETHUNE: Well if we start canceling, obviously, we’ve got a lot of e-mail notifications. If you’re one of our frequent flyers, we’ll tell you. You can always call our 800 number or just check us on and get the accurate information about your flight. That’s probably the quickest and most accurate way to find what’s going on.

CAVUTO: It’s ironic that all of this is occurring just as we’ve seen the airline industry rebound significantly, especially toward the early part of the fall, the end of the summer. Are you afraid that just as you’re sort of getting cruising here, boom?

BETHUNE: Well, Neil I think this is, you know, a couple of days where the things we’ve come into -- this sustained downturn in the last couple years, so, if we’re showing some strength in the marketplace, the economy, I think, won’t be dampened by this. This is a safety aspect where you’re disrupted, but I think, you know, at the end of the day, we’ll be back and so will the people who want to travel.

CAVUTO: It’s funny. On the 9/11 anniversary, there are a lot of people who last year at this time were not willing to fly on that date. No such types of concern this year. Do you think the flying public has significantly put that behind them?

BETHUNE: I think it’s the resilience of the American public, Neil, and you’ve got to give, you know, a lot of credit to New Yorkers especially that they just get on with their lives, and that’s what we are doing, and that’s we need to do. I think we’re doing the right things.

CAVUTO: All right. Gordon Bethune, thanks for taking the time out of your hectic schedule. We appreciate it.

BETHUNE: You bet, Neil.

CAVUTO: Gordon runs Continental Airlines. The chairman and CEO. Gordon Bethune.

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