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The Associated Press September 22, 2010, 6:27PM ET

Continental Airlines says US advanced bookings dip

Continental Airlines says advanced bookings for the next six weeks are down in the U.S. but up on international routes thanks to strong Pacific travel.

Continental expects to end the third quarter with $4.1 billion to $4.2 billion in unrestricted cash and short-term investments, compared with $3.5 billion at the end of the second quarter.

The company made the disclosures in a regulatory filing Wednesday.

Continental Airlines Inc. is combining with UAL Corp.'s United to form the world's biggest airline. The companies hope to close that deal in the next 10 days.

Continental said domestic advanced bookings as a percentage of seats on the plane is running 0.6 points below the same time last year, but international advanced bookings are up 0.8 points, due mostly to a 9.3 percent increase on Pacific routes.

Passenger-carrying capacity on mainline Continental brand flights is expected to increase 0.9 percent for the year, with shrinkage on U.S. routes more than offset by increased capacity on international routes. Airlines increase capacity by scheduling more flights or using bigger aircraft.

U.S. airlines have been disciplined in controlling capacity even as traffic has improved this year, giving them more power to boost fares.

Shares of Houston-based Continental fell 87 cents, or 3.5 percent, to close at $23.79.

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