<PAGE>
 
    AS FILED WITH THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION ON APRIL 22, 1996
 
                                                       REGISTRATION NO. 333-
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                      SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
                            WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
                                ---------------
                                   FORM S-3
                            REGISTRATION STATEMENT
                                     UNDER
                          THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933
                                ---------------
                          CONTINENTAL AIRLINES, INC.
            (EXACT NAME OF REGISTRANT AS SPECIFIED IN ITS CHARTER)
                                ---------------
               DELAWARE                              74-2099724
    (STATE OR OTHER JURISDICTION OF        (I.R.S. EMPLOYER IDENTIFICATION
    INCORPORATION OR ORGANIZATION)                     NUMBER)
                        2929 ALLEN PARKWAY, SUITE 2010
                             HOUSTON, TEXAS 77019
                                (713) 834-2950
  (ADDRESS, INCLUDING ZIP CODE, AND TELEPHONE NUMBER, INCLUDING AREA CODE, OF
                   REGISTRANT'S PRINCIPAL EXECUTIVE OFFICES)
                                ---------------
                            JEFFERY A. SMISEK, ESQ.
             SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, GENERAL COUNSEL AND SECRETARY
                          CONTINENTAL AIRLINES, INC.
                        2929 ALLEN PARKWAY, SUITE 2010
                             HOUSTON, TEXAS 77019
                                (713) 834-2950
(NAME, ADDRESS, INCLUDING ZIP CODE, AND TELEPHONE NUMBER, INCLUDING AREA CODE,
                             OF AGENT FOR SERVICE)
 
                         COPIES OF CORRESPONDENCE TO:
         MICHAEL L. RYAN, ESQ.                 STEPHEN A. GREENE, ESQ.
  CLEARY, GOTTLIEB, STEEN & HAMILTON           CAHILL GORDON & REINDEL
           ONE LIBERTY PLAZA                       80 PINE STREET
       NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10006               NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10005
                                ---------------
       APPROXIMATE DATE OF COMMENCEMENT OF PROPOSED SALE TO THE PUBLIC:
     As soon as practicable after this Registration Statement is declared
                                  effective.
                                ---------------
  If the only securities being registered on this Form are being offered
pursuant to dividend or interest reinvestment plans, please check the
following box: [_]
  If any of the securities being registered on this Form are to be offered on
a delayed or continuous basis pursuant to Rule 415 under the Securities Act of
1933, other than securities offered only in connection with dividend or
interest reinvestment plans, check the following box. [_]
  If this Form is filed to register additional securities for an offering
pursuant to Rule 462(b) under the Securities Act, please check the following
box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier
effective registration statement for the same offering. [_]
  If this Form is a post-effective amendment filed pursuant to Rule 462(c)
under the Securities Act, check the following box and list the Securities Act
registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement
for the same offering. [_]
  If delivery of the prospectus is expected to be made pursuant to Rule 434,
please check the following box. [_]
 
                        CALCULATION OF REGISTRATION FEE
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                              PROPOSED        PROPOSED
                                              MAXIMUM          MAXIMUM
  TITLE OF EACH CLASS OF     AMOUNT TO BE  OFFERING PRICE     AGGREGATE        AMOUNT OF
SECURITIES TO BE REGISTERED   REGISTERED    PER SHARE(1)  OFFERING PRICE(1) REGISTRATION FEE
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
<S>                          <C>           <C>            <C>               <C>
 Class B common stock,
  $.01 par value........     4,471,015(2)     $59.9375      $267,981,462        $92,408
</TABLE>

- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(1) Estimated solely for the purpose of calculating the registration fee
    pursuant to Rule 457 under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, based
    on the average high and low trading prices of the Class B common stock on
    the New York Stock Exchange on April 16, 1996.
(2) Includes 200,000 shares subject to the over-allotment option that Air
    Canada has granted to the underwriters.
                                ---------------
  THE REGISTRANT HEREBY AMENDS THIS REGISTRATION STATEMENT ON SUCH DATE OR
DATES AS MAY BE NECESSARY TO DELAY ITS EFFECTIVE DATE UNTIL THE REGISTRANT
SHALL FILE A FURTHER AMENDMENT WHICH SPECIFICALLY STATES THAT THIS
REGISTRATION STATEMENT SHALL THEREAFTER BECOME EFFECTIVE IN ACCORDANCE WITH
SECTION 8(A) OF THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933 OR UNTIL THE REGISTRATION STATEMENT
SHALL BECOME EFFECTIVE ON SUCH DATE AS THE COMMISSION, ACTING PURSUANT TO SAID
SECTION 8(A), MAY DETERMINE.
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

<PAGE>
 
                           CONTINENTAL AIRLINES, INC.
 
                             CROSS-REFERENCE SHEET
 
          (PURSUANT TO ITEM 501(B) OF REGULATION S-K SHOWING LOCATION
          IN PROSPECTUS OF INFORMATION REQUIRED BY ITEMS IN FORM S-3)
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
      FORM S-3 ITEM NUMBER AND CAPTION        CAPTION OR LOCATION IN PROSPECTUS
      --------------------------------        ---------------------------------
 <C> <S>                                 <C>
  1. Forepart of Registration
      Statement and Outside Front        
      Cover Page of Prospectus........   Facing Page of Registration Statement;   
                                          Outside Front Cover Page of Prospectus   
  2. Inside Front and Outside Back        
      Cover Pages of Prospectus.......   Available Information; Incorporation of                                           
                                          Certain Documents by Reference; Inside  
                                          Front Cover Page of Prospectus; Outside 
                                          Back Cover Page of Prospectus            
  3. Summary Information, Risk Factors   
      and Ratio of Earnings to Fixed                                              
      Charges.........................   Prospectus Summary; Risk Factors         
  4. Use of Proceeds..................   Use of Proceeds                                          
  5. Determination of Offering Price..   Not Applicable                           
  6. Dilution.........................   Not Applicable                           
  7. Selling Security Holders.........   Principal and Selling Stockholders                             
  8. Plan of Distribution.............   Underwriting                             
  9. Description of Securities to be     
      Registered......................   Not Applicable                            
 10. Material Changes.................   Recent Developments                                                                
 11. Incorporation of Certain            
      Documents by Reference..........   Incorporation of Certain Documents by                                             
                                          Reference                                
 12. Disclosure of Commission Position   
      on Indemnification For                                                      
      Securities Act Liabilities......   Not Applicable                            
</TABLE>


<PAGE>
 
                               EXPLANATORY NOTE
 
  This Registration Statement contains two forms of prospectus: one to be used
in connection with an offering in the United States and Canada (the "U.S.
Prospectus") and one to be used in a concurrent offering outside the United
States and Canada (the "International Prospectus"). The two prospectuses are
identical except for the front and back cover pages, the inside front cover
page, and the section entitled "Underwriting." The form of U.S. Prospectus is
included herein and is followed by the alternate pages to be used in the
International Prospectus. Each of the alternate pages for the International
Prospectus included herein is labeled "Alternate Page for International
Prospectus." Final forms of each Prospectus will be filed with the Securities
and Exchange Commission under Rule 424(b).

<PAGE>
 
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN IS SUBJECT TO COMPLETION OR AMENDMENT. A         +
+REGISTRATION STATEMENT RELATING TO THESE SECURITIES HAS BEEN FILED WITH THE   +
+SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION. THESE SECURITIES MAY NOT BE SOLD NOR MAY  +
+OFFERS TO BUY BE ACCEPTED PRIOR TO THE TIME THE REGISTRATION STATEMENT        +
+BECOMES EFFECTIVE. THIS PROSPECTUS SHALL NOT CONSTITUTE AN OFFER TO SELL OR   +
+THE SOLICITATION OF AN OFFER TO BUY NOR SHALL THERE BE ANY SALE OF THESE      +
+SECURITIES IN ANY STATE IN WHICH SUCH OFFER, SOLICITATION OR SALE WOULD BE    +
+UNLAWFUL PRIOR TO REGISTRATION OR QUALIFICATION UNDER THE SECURITIES LAWS OF  +
+ANY SUCH STATE.                                                               +
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
                             SUBJECT TO COMPLETION
                  PRELIMINARY PROSPECTUS DATED APRIL 22, 1996
 
PROSPECTUS
- ---------- 
                                4,271,015 SHARES
                           CONTINENTAL AIRLINES, INC.
                              CLASS B COMMON STOCK
                                  -----------
 
  Of the 4,271,015 shares (the "Shares") of Class B common stock, par value
$.01 per share (the "Class B common stock"), of Continental Airlines, Inc. (the
"Company" or "Continental") offered hereby, 3,416,812 Shares are being offered
in the United States and Canada (the "U.S. Shares") by the U.S. Underwriters
(the "U.S. Offering"), and 854,203 Shares are being concurrently offered
outside the United States and Canada by the International Underwriters (the
"International Offering" and, together with the U.S. Offering, the "Offering").
The offering price and underwriting discounts and commissions of the U.S.
Offering and the International Offering are identical. See "Underwriting."
 
  All of the Shares offered hereby are being sold by Air Canada, a Canadian
corporation ("Air Canada"), and certain partners of Air Partners, L.P., a Texas
limited partnership ("Air Partners") (collectively, the "Selling
Stockholders"). See "Principal and Selling Stockholders." Continental will not
receive any of the proceeds from the sale of the Shares by the Selling
Stockholders.
 
  The Class B common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, Inc. (the
"NYSE") under the trading symbol "CAI.B." On April 19, 1996, the last reported
sale price of the Class B common stock on the NYSE Composite Tape was $59 3/8
per share. See "Market Price of Common Stock and Dividends."
 
  FOR A DISCUSSION OF CERTAIN FACTORS THAT SHOULD BE CONSIDERED IN EVALUATING
AN INVESTMENT IN THE SHARES, SEE "RISK FACTORS" ON PAGES 13 TO 16.
 
                                  -----------
 
THESE SECURITIES HAVE NOT BEEN APPROVED OR DISAPPROVED BY THE SECURITIES AND
EXCHANGE COMMISSION OR ANY STATE SECURITIES COMMISSION NOR HAS THE SECURITIES
AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION OR ANY STATE SECURITIES COMMISSION PASSED UPON THE
ACCURACY OR ADEQUACY OF THIS PROSPECTUS. ANY REPRESENTATION TO THE CONTRARY IS
A CRIMINAL OFFENSE.
 
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                     PRICE TO   UNDERWRITING PROCEEDS TO SELLING
                                      PUBLIC    DISCOUNT(1)    STOCKHOLDERS(2)
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
<S>                                 <C>         <C>          <C>
Per Share.........................    $            $                $
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total(3)..........................  $            $               $
</TABLE>

- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(1) The Company and the Selling Stockholders have severally agreed to indemnify
    the several Underwriters against certain liabilities, including liabilities
    under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended. See "Underwriting."
(2) The Company has agreed to pay certain expenses of the Offering estimated at
    $    .
(3) Air Canada has granted the U.S. Underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up
    to 200,000 additional shares of Class B common stock on the same terms and
    conditions as set forth above. If all such additional shares are purchased
    by the Underwriters, the total Price to Public will be $    , the total
    Underwriting Discount will be $     and the total Proceeds to Selling
    Stockholders will be $    . See "Underwriting."
 
                                  -----------
 
  The Shares are offered by the several Underwriters, subject to prior sale,
when, as and if delivered to and accepted by them, subject to approval of
certain legal matters by counsel to the Underwriters, and certain other
conditions. The Underwriters reserve the right to withdraw, cancel or modify
such offer and to reject orders in whole or in part. It is expected that
delivery of the Shares will be made in New York, New York on or about    ,
1996.
 
                                  -----------
 
MERRILL LYNCH & CO.
 
                GOLDMAN, SACHS & CO.
 
                              LEHMAN BROTHERS
 
                                            MORGAN STANLEY & CO.
                                             INCORPORATED
 
                                  -----------
 
                   The date of this Prospectus is    , 1996.

<PAGE>
 
                             AVAILABLE INFORMATION
 
  Continental is subject to the informational requirements of the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the "Exchange Act"), and in accordance
therewith files reports, proxy statements and other information with the
Securities and Exchange Commission (the "Commission"). Such reports, proxy
statements and other information may be inspected and copied at the following
public reference facilities maintained by the Commission: Room 1024, Judiciary
Plaza, 450 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20549; Suite 1300, Seven World
Trade Center, New York, New York 10048; and The Citicorp Center, Suite 1400,
500 West Madison Street, Chicago, Illinois 60661. Copies of such material may
also be obtained from the Public Reference Section of the Commission at Room
1024, Judiciary Plaza, 450 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20549, upon
payment of prescribed rates. In addition, reports, proxy statements and other
information concerning Continental may be inspected and copied at the offices
of the New York Stock Exchange, Inc., 20 Broad Street, New York, New York
10005.
 
  Continental is the successor to Continental Airlines Holdings, Inc.
("Holdings"), which merged with and into Continental on April 27, 1993.
Holdings had also been subject to the informational requirements of the
Exchange Act.
 
  This Prospectus constitutes a part of a registration statement on Form S-3
(together with all amendments and exhibits, the "Registration Statement")
filed by Continental with the Commission under the Securities Act of 1933, as
amended (the "Securities Act"). This Prospectus omits certain of the
information contained in the Registration Statement, and reference is hereby
made to the Registration Statement for further information with respect to
Continental and Holdings and the securities offered hereby. Statements
contained herein concerning the provisions of any document accurately describe
the material provisions thereof, but are not necessarily complete and, in each
instance, reference is made to the copy of such document filed as an exhibit
to the Registration Statement or otherwise filed with the Commission. Each
such statement is qualified in its entirety by such reference. These documents
may be inspected without charge at the office of the Commission at Judiciary
Plaza, 450 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20549, and copies may be
obtained at fees and charges prescribed by the Commission.
 
                               ----------------
 
  IN CONNECTION WITH THIS OFFERING, THE UNDERWRITERS MAY OVER-ALLOT OR EFFECT
TRANSACTIONS WHICH STABILIZE OR MAINTAIN THE MARKET PRICE OF THE SHARES
OFFERED HEREBY AT A LEVEL ABOVE THAT WHICH MIGHT OTHERWISE PREVAIL IN THE OPEN
MARKET. SUCH TRANSACTIONS MAY BE EFFECTED ON THE NYSE OR OTHERWISE. SUCH
STABILIZING, IF COMMENCED, MAY BE DISCONTINUED AT ANY TIME.
 
  DURING THIS OFFERING, CERTAIN PERSONS AFFILIATED WITH PERSONS PARTICIPATING
IN THE DISTRIBUTION MAY ENGAGE IN TRANSACTIONS FOR THEIR OWN ACCOUNT OR FOR
THE ACCOUNTS OF OTHERS IN THE SHARES PURSUANT TO EXEMPTIONS FROM RULES 10B-6,
10B-7, AND 10B-8 UNDER THE EXCHANGE ACT.
 
FOR FLORIDA RESIDENTS
 
  The Company does not conduct business with the government of Cuba or any
person or affiliate located in Cuba, except that Continental aircraft conduct
Cuban overflights for which Continental makes monthly payments through a
clearing house of Cubana de Aviacion pursuant to a specific license from the
Office of Foreign Assets Control, United States Department of Treasury.
 
  The information set forth above is accurate as of the date hereof. Current
information concerning the Company's business dealings with the government of
Cuba or with any person or affiliate located in Cuba may be obtained from the
Division of Securities and Investor Protection of the Florida Department of
Banking and Finance, The Capital, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0350, telephone
number (904) 488-9805.
 
                                       2

<PAGE>
 
                INCORPORATION OF CERTAIN DOCUMENTS BY REFERENCE
 
  The following documents filed with the Commission (File No. 0-9781) are
hereby incorporated by reference in this Prospectus: (i) Continental's Annual
Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 1995 (as amended by Forms
10-K/A1 and 10-K/A2 filed on March 8, 1996 and April 10, 1996, respectively),
(ii) the description of the Class B common stock contained in Continental's
registration statement (RegistrationNo. 0-21542) on Form 8-A, (iii)
Continental's Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31,
1996 and (iv) Continental's Current Reports on Forms 8-K, filed on January 31,
1996 and March 26, 1996.
 
  All reports and any definitive proxy or information statements filed by
Continental pursuant to Section 13(a), 13(c), 14 or 15(d) of the Exchange Act
subsequent to the date of this Prospectus and prior to the termination of the
offering of the Securities offered hereby shall be deemed to be incorporated
by reference into this Prospectus and to be a part hereof from the date of
filing of such documents. Any statement contained in a document incorporated
or deemed to be incorporated herein by reference, or contained in this
Prospectus, shall be deemed to be modified or superseded for purposes of this
Prospectus to the extent that a statement contained herein or in any other
subsequently filed document which also is or is deemed to be incorporated by
reference herein modifies or supersedes such statement. Any such statement so
modified or superseded shall not be deemed, except as so modified or
superseded, to constitute a part of this Prospectus.
 
  Continental will provide without charge to each person to whom this
Prospectus is delivered, upon the written or oral request of such person, a
copy of any or all documents incorporated herein by reference, other than
exhibits to such documents (unless such exhibits are specifically incorporated
by reference into such documents). Requests for such documents should be
directed to Continental Airlines, Inc., 2929 Allen Parkway, Suite 2010,
Houston, Texas 77019, Attention: Secretary, telephone (713) 834-2950.
 
                                       3

<PAGE>
 
                               PROSPECTUS SUMMARY
 
  The following summary information is qualified in its entirety by the
detailed information and financial statements (including the notes thereto)
appearing elsewhere or incorporated by reference in this Prospectus.
Prospective investors should consider carefully the matters discussed under the
caption "Risk Factors." Unless otherwise stated or unless the context otherwise
requires, references to "Continental" or the "Company" include Continental
Airlines, Inc. and its predecessors and subsidiaries. All route, fleet, traffic
and similar information appearing in this Prospectus is as of or for the period
ended March 31, 1996, unless otherwise stated herein.
 
                                  THE COMPANY
 
  Continental Airlines, Inc. is a major United States air carrier engaged in
the business of transporting passengers, cargo and mail. Continental is the
fifth largest United States airline (as measured by revenue passenger miles in
the first three months of 1996) and, together with its wholly owned subsidiary,
Continental Express, Inc. ("Express"), and its 91%-owned subsidiary,
Continental Micronesia, Inc. ("CMI"), serves 175 airports worldwide.
 
  The Company operates its route system primarily through domestic hubs at
Newark, Houston Intercontinental and Cleveland, and a Pacific hub on Guam and
Saipan. Each of Continental's three U.S. hubs is located in a large business
and population center, contributing to a high volume of "origin and
destination" traffic. The Guam/Saipan hub is strategically located to provide
service from Japanese and other Asian cities to popular resort destinations in
the western Pacific. Continental is the primary carrier at each of these hubs,
accounting for 51%, 78%, 54% and 58% of all daily jet departures, respectively.
 
  Continental directly serves 118 U.S. cities, with additional cities
(principally in the western and southwestern United States) connected to
Continental's route system under agreements with America West Airlines, Inc.
("America West"). Internationally, Continental flies to 57 destinations and
offers additional connecting service through alliances with foreign carriers.
Continental operates 52 weekly departures to five European cities and markets
service to four other cities through code-sharing agreements. Continental is
one of the leading airlines providing service to Mexico and Central America,
serving more destinations there than any other United States airline. In
addition, Continental flies to four cities in South America and plans to
commence service between Newark and Bogota, Colombia, with service on to Quito,
Ecuador, in June 1996. Through its Guam/Saipan hub, Continental provides
extensive service in the western Pacific, including service to more Japanese
cities than any other United States carrier.
 
  In late 1994 and early 1995, Continental's new management team, led by Gordon
Bethune (President and Chief Executive Officer) and Greg Brenneman (Chief
Operating Officer), put in place a comprehensive strategic and operational plan
designed to fundamentally change the Company. The plan, labeled the "Go Forward
Plan", was a "back to basics" approach, which focused on improving
profitability and financial condition by delivering a consistent quality
product to customers and improving employee morale and working conditions.
 
  Management believes that the initiatives put in place under the Go Forward
Plan and the support of Continental's employees contributed significantly to
the Company's record $224 million in net income and other accomplishments in
1995. These accomplishments included substantial improvements in revenue per
available seat mile, load factor and yields, increased cash from operations,
consistent interior and exterior aircraft appearance, achievement of number one
ranking in on-time performance and fewest mishandled bags among major carriers
in the fourth quarter (as reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation
("DOT")), significant reductions in customer complaints, payment of profit
sharing to employees, and improved employee relations (including signing the
first collective bargaining agreement with pilots in 12 years).
 
                                       4

<PAGE>
 
 
  In addition, management believes that these Go Forward Plan initiatives and
Continental employee support have continued to contribute to the Company's
results in 1996, as evidenced by the Company's $88 million net income for the
first quarter and substantially higher revenue per available seat mile, load
factor and yields, as compared with the first quarter of 1995.
 
                              1996 GO FORWARD PLAN
 
  The Company's 1996 Go Forward Plan combines the four basic components of the
1995 plan, Fly to Win, Fund the Future, Make Reliability a Reality and Working
Together, with new initiatives intended to build upon Continental's operational
and strategic strengths.
 
  Fly to Win. The Company's 1996 Fly to Win initiatives center around three
principal themes: Focus on Hub Operations, Improve Business/Leisure Mix and
Develop an Alliance Network.
 
    Focus on Hub Operations. Continental plans to continue focusing on its hub
    operations, adding selected flights and refining its scheduling to
    capitalize on the strength of its hubs. The last 9 jet aircraft currently
    deployed to serve Greensboro, North Carolina as a "mini-hub" are scheduled
    to be redeployed in June to bolster the Company's Newark and Houston hubs.
    In 1996, Continental will also focus on expanding international traffic
    through service to new destinations and additional code-sharing alliances
    with foreign carriers.
 
  . Newark. Continental is the only major U.S. carrier with a hub in the New
    York metropolitan area, the largest population center in the United
    States. Through its state-of-the-art facility, Continental operates 51%
    (214 departures) of the average daily jet departures and, together with
    Express, accounted for 57% (333 departures) of all average daily
    departures (jet and turboprop) from Newark. As the only hub carrier in
    the New York metropolitan area, Continental believes it has several
    advantages. For example, in addition to international travelers attracted
    to the New York metropolitan area as a tourist and business destination,
    Continental's Newark hub attracts international travelers seeking
    convenient connections to other destinations throughout the Company's
    route system. Management believes that combining the Company's own flying
    with alliance flying (discussed below) over the next few years can
    develop Newark into a global gateway of considerable significance. A new
    international passenger facility was opened at Newark in 1996 to permit
    growth in international service, and a passenger monorail is expected to
    open in the next few months which will allow prompt connections between
    the international facility (Terminal B) and the Company's domestic
    operations in Terminal C.
 
  . Houston. Continental operates 55% (290 departures) of average daily jet
    departures and together with Express accounted for 60% (388 departures)
    of the combined average daily departures from Houston Intercontinental
    and Hobby airports. The Company occupies space in two terminals (C and
    IAB) at Houston Intercontinental and has realigned the Houston hub's gate
    structure to allow for more convenient connections of domestic and
    international flights. Management believes that Houston is also well
    suited for east/west connecting traffic and features faster ground
    connection times than the east/west hubs of certain of its principal
    competitors. Management believes that Houston, like Newark, has
    significant growth potential. Continental currently has 41 gates under
    use at Intercontinental airport at the time of peak bank departures. This
    compares to approximately 55 gates used by American Airlines at Dallas-
    Fort Worth International Airport ("DFW") during peak bank departures and
    approximately 50 gates used by Northwest Airlines at Minneapolis during
    peak bank departures. The Company is currently negotiating with the City
    of Houston for an additional 10 gates at Intercontinental airport.
 
    Houston is the focus of Continental's operations in Mexico and Central
    America, serving 11 cities in Mexico and every country in Central America.
    Continental serves more destinations in Mexico than any other United States
    airline. Continental also serves three cities in South America through its
    Houston hub, flies directly to London and Paris and has code-sharing
    agreements through Newark for Rome, Milan, Amsterdam and Prague.
 
                                       5

<PAGE>
 
 
  . Cleveland. Continental operates 54% (106 departures) of the average daily
    jet departures and, together with Express, accounted for 62% (216
    departures) of all average daily departures from Cleveland. Management
    believes that Cleveland is currently underserved as a hub, given the size
    of its population base relative to that of other hub cities (such as
    Pittsburgh and Cincinnati) with higher levels of service. In 1996,
    Continental intends to begin expansion of service at Cleveland, in part
    by adding Express flights to new destinations in the midwestern United
    States. Management expects these Express flights to generate additional
    feed traffic that ultimately can support additional jet service in
    Cleveland.
 
  . Guam/Saipan. CMI is a United States-certificated international carrier
    engaged in the business of transporting passengers, cargo and mail in the
    western Pacific. From its hub operations based on Guam and Saipan, CMI
    provides service to seven cities in Japan, more than any other United
    States carrier, and to other Pacific rim destinations, including Taiwan,
    the Philippines, Hong Kong, South Korea and Indonesia. Service to these
    Japanese cities and certain other Pacific rim destinations is subject to
    a variety of regulatory restrictions, limiting the ability of other
    carriers to begin servicing these markets. CMI is the principal air
    carrier in the Micronesian Islands, where it pioneered scheduled air
    service in 1968. CMI's route system is linked to the United States market
    through Honolulu, which CMI serves non-stop from both Tokyo and Guam. CMI
    and Continental also maintain a code-sharing agreement and coordinate
    schedules on certain flights from the west coast of the United States to
    Honolulu, and from Honolulu to Guam and Tokyo to facilitate travel from
    the United States into CMI's route system.
 
    Management believes that by adding domestic and international flights to
    the Company's hubs, attracting more international passengers through
    alliances with foreign carriers and further refining the efficiency of the
    Company's hub operations, Continental can continue to capture additional
    flow traffic through its hubs and attract a larger share of higher
    yielding business travelers, while growing both its domestic and
    international operations.
 
    Improve Business/Leisure Mix.
 
    The Company's passenger load factors have increased substantially from
    59.7% in the first quarter of 1995 to 67.0% in the first quarter of 1996.
    This increase in load factor facilitates the Company's efforts to manage
    the business versus leisure traveler mix on its aircraft. Since the
    average business traveler generally pays a higher fare (on a revenue per
    seat mile basis) for the convenience of booking later and being able to
    make last minute travel changes, increases in business traffic contribute
    to incremental profitability. Business fares (i.e., unrestricted fares)
    accounted for approximately 44.8% of the Company's passenger revenue in
    the first quarter of 1996 compared to 37.8% in the first quarter of 1995.
    The Company has recently invested in state-of-the-art revenue management
    and pricing systems, which management believes will enhance its ability to
    manage the business versus leisure mix.
 
    Develop an Alliance Network.
 
    Management believes that developing a network of international alliance
    partners will better leverage the Company's hub assets and result in
    improved returns to the Company. Focusing on multiple tactical alliances
    allows the Company to benefit from the strengths of its alliance partners
    in their local markets while reducing the Company's reliance on any
    individual alliance partner.
 
    Management has a goal of developing alliance relationships that, together 
    with the Company's own flying, would permit expanded service out of Newark
    to major destinations in South America, Europe and Asia, and would permit
    expanded service out of Houston to certain destinations in South America
    and Europe, and service to Japan. Certain route authorities that would be
    required for the Company's own service to certain of these destinations
    are not currently available to the Company.
 
 
                                       6

<PAGE>
 
   Continental currently has international code-sharing alliances with
   Alitalia Airlines ("Alitalia"), Air Canada, Transavia Airlines
   ("Transavia") and CSA Czech Airlines, and joint marketing agreements with
   other airlines not involving code-sharing. The Company has recently
   entered into code-sharing agreements with China Airlines, the TACA Group
   (serving Central America and the northern tier of South America) and World
   Airways (serving South Africa, Senegal, Israel and two points in Ireland);
   all of these agreements are scheduled to be implemented by the end of the
   second quarter. The Company anticipates entering into other code-sharing
   agreements in 1996.
 
  Fund the Future. Having achieved its 1995 goals of building overall liquidity
and improving financial condition, management is shifting its financial focus
in 1996 to target the Company's interest and lease expense. Through refinancing
and other initiatives, management hopes to achieve substantial reductions in
interest and lease expense attributable to financing arrangements that were
entered into when the Company was in a less favorable financial position.
 
  In the first quarter of 1996, the Company completed a number of transactions
intended to strengthen its long-term financial position and enhance earnings.
 
  .  In January, the Company consummated the offering of $489 million of
     enhanced pass-through certificates that refinanced the underlying debt
     associated with 18 leased aircraft and will reduce Continental's annual
     operating lease expense by more than $15 million for the affected
     aircraft.
 
  .  During January and February, Continental repurchased or redeemed without
     prepayment penalty the remaining amount of the Series A convertible
     secured debentures for $125 million (including payment-in-kind interest
     of $7 million).
 
  .  In February, Continental sold approximately 1.4 million of the shares it
     owned in America West, realizing net proceeds of approximately $25
     million and recognizing a gain of $12.5 million.
 
  .  In March, Continental completed the offering of $230 million of 6 3/4%
     convertible subordinated notes.
 
  .  In March, Continental repaid $257 million of secured indebtedness to
     General Electric Company and affiliates (collectively, "GE") (of which
     $47 million was required as a result of the convertible debt financing
     and the America West stock sale and $210 million was an optional
     prepayment), obtaining the elimination of certain restrictive covenants.
 
  Make Reliability a Reality. Customer service will continue to be a focus in
1996. Management believes Continental's on-time performance record is crucial
to its other operational objectives and, together with its other initiatives
(such as improved baggage handling and customer satisfaction) is an important
tool to attract higher-margin business travelers.
 
  Continental's goal for 1996 is to be ranked monthly by the DOT among the top
three major carriers in on-time performance, baggage handling and customer
satisfaction. In 1995, $65 bonuses were paid to employees (up to the manager
level) for each month that the Company ranked among the top five major carriers
for on-time performance statistics. For 1996, bonuses of $65 will continue to
be paid to these employees for each month that Continental ranks second or
third in on-time performance, and bonuses of $100 will be paid for each month
that Continental ranks first.
 
  In addition to programs intended to improve Continental's standings in DOT
performance data, the Company has acted in a number of additional areas to
enhance Continental's attractiveness to business travelers and the travel agent
community. Specifically, Continental implemented various initiatives designed
to offer travelers cleaner, more attractive aircraft interiors; consistent
interior and exterior decor; first class seating on all jet aircraft; better
meals and greater benefits under its award-winning frequent flyer program. In
1996, Continental intends to continue making improvements designed to attract
business travelers, such as upgraded on-board telecommunications, entertainment
and information systems, refurbished Presidents Clubs with
 
                                       7

<PAGE>
 
specialty bars, and on-board specialty coffees and microbrewery beer, among
others. The Company continues to refine its award-winning BusinessFirst
service.
 
  Working Together. Management believes that Continental's employees are its
greatest asset, as well as the cornerstones of improved reliability and
customer service. Management has introduced a variety of programs to increase
employee participation and foster a sense of shared community. These
initiatives include significant efforts to communicate openly and honestly with
all employees, through daily news bulletins, weekly voicemail updates from
Gordon Bethune, quarterly Continental publications, videotapes mailed to
employees, and Go Forward Plan bulletin boards in all departments system-wide.
In addition, regularly scheduled visits to airports throughout the route system
are made by the senior executives of the Company (each of whom is assigned an
airport for this purpose) and monthly meetings open to all employees, as well
as other periodic on-site visits by management designed to encourage employee
participation and cooperation.
 
  Management believes that it enjoys good relations with all employee groups.
The Company's jet pilots are represented by the Independent Association of
Continental Pilots ("IACP"), which signed a collective bargaining agreement,
which was ratified by the union membership, effective July 1, 1995. This
agreement was the first collective bargaining agreement with the Company's
pilots in 12 years.
 
  The Company is a Delaware corporation. Its executive offices are located at
2929 Allen Parkway, Suite 2010, Houston, Texas 77019, and its telephone number
is (713) 834-2950.
 
                                       8

<PAGE>
 
                                  THE OFFERING
 

<TABLE>
<S>                        <C>
Shares Offered by
 Selling Stockholders(1):
  U.S. Offering..........  3,416,812 Shares
  International
   Offering..............    854,203 Shares
                           ----------------
    Total................  4,271,015 Shares
                           ================
Shares Outstanding after
 the Offering(1)(2):
  Class A................  23,150,130 Shares
  Class B................   4,640,000 Shares
                           -----------------
    Total................  27,790,130 Shares
                           =================
Use of Proceeds..........  The Company will not receive any proceeds from the
                           Offering.
Voting Control...........  Assuming consummation of this Offering (and exercise of
                           the Underwriters' overallotment option) and
                           consummation of the transactions described under
                           "Recent Developments," approximately 4.0% of the
                           general voting power and 10.1% of the common equity
                           interests would be held by Air Canada and 9.9% of the
                           common equity interests and 39.4% of the general voting
                           power would be held by Air Partners. In addition,
                           assuming exercise of all of the warrants held by Air
                           Partners, approximately 52.2% of the general voting
                           power and 23.4% of the common equity interests would be
                           held by Air Partners. See "Principal and Selling
                           Stockholders."
                           The Company, Air Canada and Air Partners have agreed to
                           amend the Subscription and Stockholders' Agreement
                           dated as of April 27, 1993 among the Company, Air
                           Partners and Air Canada (the "Stockholders' Agreement")
                           and certain related agreements upon the closing of this
                           Offering as part of the consummation of the
                           transactions described under "Recent Developments." In
                           addition, at its annual meeting of stockholders to be
                           held June 26, 1996 (the "Annual Meeting"), the Company
                           has proposed to eliminate a number of the provisions of
                           the Company's Restated Certificate of Incorporation
                           (the "Certificate of Incorporation") that currently
                           provide Air Partners and Air Canada special rights. See
                           "Description of Capital Stock."
</TABLE>

 
                                       9

<PAGE>
 
 

<TABLE>
<S>                      <C>
Limitations on Foreign 
 Ownership of Common    
 Stock.................. Foreign ownership restrictions contained in the
                         Company's Certificate of Incorporation and bylaws (the
                         "Bylaws") limit the number of shares of voting stock
                         that may be voted by foreign holders. See "Description
                         of Capital Stock--Class A Common Stock and Class B
                         Common Stock--Limitation on Voting by Foreign Owners."
NYSE Symbol............. CAI.B
</TABLE>

- --------
(1) Excludes 200,000 shares subject to the Underwriters' overallotment option.
(2) Excludes 1,519,734 shares of Class A common stock and 3,382,632 Class B
    common stock reserved for issuance upon exercise of warrants held by Air
    Partners; reflects the contemplated conversion by Air Canada of all its
    1,661,056 shares of Class A common stock into Class B common stock.
 
                                       10

<PAGE>
 
                      SUMMARY FINANCIAL AND OPERATING DATA
 
  The following tables summarize certain financial and operating data of the
Company and certain financial data of Holdings. The consolidated financial data
of both the Company and Holdings are derived from their respective audited
consolidated financial statements. On April 27, 1993, in connection with the
Reorganization (as defined herein), the Company adopted fresh start reporting
in accordance with SOP 90-7 (as defined herein). A vertical black line is shown
in the table below to separate Continental's post-reorganized consolidated
financial data from the pre-reorganized consolidated financial data of Holdings
since they have not been prepared on a consistent basis of accounting. The
consolidated financial data of the Company for the three months ended March 31,
1996 and 1995 are derived from its unaudited consolidated financial statements.
The unaudited consolidated financial statements include all adjustments
(consisting solely of normal recurring accruals) that the Company considers
necessary for the presentation of the financial position and results of
operations for these periods. Operating results for the three months ended
March 31, 1996 are not necessarily indicative of the results that may be
expected for the year ending December 31, 1996. The selected consolidated
financial data should be read in conjunction with, and are qualified in their
entirety by reference to, the consolidated financial statements, including the
notes thereto, incorporated by reference herein. See "Management's Discussion
and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations."
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                                                                                       PERIOD FROM   PERIOD FROM
                                                                                                     REORGANIZATION  JANUARY 1,
                                                                THREE MONTHS       YEAR ENDED        (APRIL 28, 1993    1993
                                                              ENDED MARCH 31,     DECEMBER 31,           THROUGH       THROUGH
                                                              -----------------  ---------------      DECEMBER 31,    APRIL 27,
                                                               1996      1995     1995    1994            1993)         1993
                                                              -------  --------  ------  -------     --------------- -----------
                                                                    (IN MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, EXCEPT PER SHARE DATA)
                                                                (UNAUDITED)
<S>                                                           <C>      <C>       <C>     <C>         <C>             <C>
STATEMENT OF OPERATIONS DATA:
Operating Revenue:
 Passenger................................................... $ 1,375   $ 1,240  $5,302  $ 5,036         $ 3,493       $1,622
 Cargo, mail and other.......................................     114       169     523      634             417          235
                                                              -------  --------  ------  -------         -------       ------
                                                                1,489     1,409   5,825    5,670           3,910        1,857
Operating Expenses...........................................   1,369     1,381   5,440    5,681           3,815        1,971
                                                              -------  --------  ------  -------         -------       ------
 Operating Income (Loss).....................................     120        28     385      (11)             95         (114)
                                                              -------  --------  ------  -------         -------       ------
Nonoperating Income (Expense):
 Interest expense............................................     (47)      (53)   (213)    (241)           (165)         (52)
 Interest capitalized........................................       1         1       6       17               8            2
 Interest income.............................................       9         6      31       23              14          --
 Gain on System One transactions.............................     --        --      108      --              --           --
 Reorganization items, net...................................     --        --      --       --              --          (818)
 Other, net..................................................      12       (10)     (7)    (439)(1)          (4)           5
                                                              -------  --------  ------  -------         -------       ------
                                                                  (25)      (56)    (75)    (640)           (147)        (863)
                                                              -------  --------  ------  -------         -------       ------
Income (Loss) before Income Taxes, Minority Interest and
 Extraordinary Gain..........................................      95       (28)    310     (651)            (52)        (977)
Net Income (Loss)............................................ $    88  $    (30) $  224  $  (613)        $   (39)      $2,640(2)
Earnings (Loss) per Common and Common Equivalent Share....... $  2.70  $  (1.21) $ 7.20  $(23.76)        $ (2.33)        N.M.(3)
                                                              =======  ========  ======  =======         =======       ======
Earnings (Loss) per Common Share Assuming Full Dilution...... $  2.36  $  (1.21) $ 6.29  $(23.76)        $ (2.33)        N.M.(3)
- --------------------------------------------------
                                                              =======  ========  ======  =======         =======       ======
</TABLE>

 
                                       11

<PAGE>
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                               THREE MONTHS
                              ENDED MARCH 31,     YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31,
                              ----------------  ------------------------------
                               1996     1995     1995    1994    1993    1992
                              -------  -------  ------  ------  ------  ------
<S>                           <C>      <C>      <C>     <C>     <C>     <C>
OPERATING DATA (UNAUDITED):
 (4)
Revenue passenger miles
 (millions).................    9,752    9,561  40,023  41,588  42,324  43,072
Available seat miles
 (millions).................   14,551   16,003  61,006  65,861  67,011  67,877
Passenger load factor.......     67.0%    59.7%   65.6%   63.1%   63.2%   63.5%
Breakeven passenger load
 factor.....................     61.0%    58.2%   60.8%   62.9%   63.3%   65.4%
Passenger revenue per
 available seat mile
 (cents)....................     8.90     7.37    8.20    7.22    7.17    6.66
Operating cost per available
 seat mile (cents)..........     8.92     7.90    8.36    7.86    7.90    7.56
Average yield per revenue
 passenger mile (cents).....    13.28    12.34   12.51   11.44   11.35   10.49
Average length of aircraft
 flight (miles).............      876      803     836     727     856     851
</TABLE>

 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                                           AS OF       AS OF
                                                         MARCH 31,  DECEMBER 31,
                                                           1996         1995
                                                        ----------- ------------
                                                        (IN MILLIONS OF DOLLARS)
                                                        (UNAUDITED)
<S>                                                     <C>         <C>
BALANCE SHEET DATA:
Cash and Cash Equivalents, including restricted Cash
 and Cash Equivalents of $124 and $144,
 respectively(5)......................................    $  657       $  747
Other Current Assets..................................       655          568
Total Property and Equipment, Net.....................     1,410        1,461
Routes, Gates and Slots, Net..........................     1,517        1,531
Other Assets, Net.....................................       507          514
                                                          ------       ------
 Total Assets.........................................    $4,746       $4,821
                                                          ======       ======
Current Liabilities...................................    $2,040       $1,984
Long Term Debt and Capital Leases.....................     1,462        1,658
Deferred Credits and Other Long-term Liabilities......       542          564
Minority Interest.....................................        28           27
Continental-Obligated Mandatorily Redeemable Preferred
 Securities of Trust(6)...............................       242          242
Redeemable Preferred Stock............................        42           41
Common Stockholders' Equity...........................       390          305
                                                          ------       ------
 Total Liabilities and Stockholders' Equity...........    $4,746       $4,821
                                                          ======       ======
</TABLE>

- --------
(1) Includes a provision of $447 million recorded in the fourth quarter of 1994
    associated with the planned early retirement of certain aircraft and closed
    or underutilized airport and maintenance facilities and other assets.
(2) Includes a $3.6 billion extraordinary gain from the extinguishment of debt.
(3) Historical per share data for Holdings is not meaningful since the Company
    has been recapitalized and has adopted fresh start reporting as of April
    27, 1993.
(4) Operating cost and breakeven passenger load factor data for periods prior
    to April 28, 1993 are not comparable with data after April 27, 1993.
(5) Restricted cash and cash equivalents agreements relate primarily to
    workers' compensation claims and the terms of certain other agreements. In
    addition, CMI is required by its loan agreement with GE to maintain certain
    minimum cash balances and net worth levels, which effectively restrict the
    amount of cash available to Continental from CMI.
(6) The sole assets of the Trust are convertible subordinated debentures which
    are expected to be repaid by 2020. Upon repayment, the Continental-
    Obligated Mandatorily Redeemable Preferred Securities of Trust will be
    mandatorily redeemed.
 
 
                                       12

<PAGE>
 
                                 RISK FACTORS
 
  Prospective investors should carefully consider the factors set forth below,
in addition to the other information contained or incorporated by reference in
this Prospectus, in evaluating an investment in the Shares offered hereby.
 
CONTINENTAL'S HISTORY OF OPERATING LOSSES
 
  Although Continental recorded net income of $224 million in 1995 and $88
million in the three months ended March 31, 1996, it had experienced
significant operating losses in the previous eight years. In the long term,
Continental's viability depends on its ability to sustain profitable results
of operations.
 
LEVERAGE AND LIQUIDITY
 
  Continental has successfully negotiated a variety of agreements to increase
its liquidity during 1995 and 1996. Nevertheless, Continental remains more
leveraged and has significantly less liquidity than certain of its
competitors, several of whom have available lines of credit and/or significant
unencumbered assets. Accordingly, Continental may be less able than certain of
its competitors to withstand a prolonged recession in the airline industry.
 
  As of March 31, 1996, Continental and its consolidated subsidiaries had
approximately $1.7 billion (including current maturities) of long-term
indebtedness and capital lease obligations and had approximately $702 million
of minority interest, preferred securities of trust, redeemable preferred
stock and common stockholders' equity. Common stockholders' equity reflects
the adjustment of the Company's balance sheet and the recording of assets and
liabilities at fair market value as of April 27, 1993 in accordance with fresh
start reporting.
 
  During the first and second quarters of 1995, in connection with
negotiations with various lenders and lessors, Continental ceased or reduced
contractually required payments under various agreements, which produced a
significant number of events of default under debt, capital lease and
operating lease agreements. Through agreements reached with the various
lenders and lessors, Continental has cured all of these events of default. The
last such agreement was put in place during the fourth quarter of 1995.
 
  As of March 31, 1996, Continental had approximately $657 million of cash and
cash equivalents, including restricted cash and cash equivalents of $124
million. Continental does not have general lines of credit and has no
significant unencumbered assets.
 
  Continental has firm commitments with The Boeing Company ("Boeing") to take
delivery of one new 757 aircraft in April 1996 and 43 new jet aircraft during
the years 1998 through 2002. The estimated aggregate cost of these aircraft is
$2.6 billion. In addition, six Beech 1900-D turboprop aircraft are scheduled
to be delivered later in 1996. The Company currently anticipates that the firm
financing commitments available to it with respect to its acquisition of new
aircraft from Boeing and Beech Acceptance Corporation ("Beech") will be
sufficient to fund all deliveries scheduled during 1996, and that it will have
remaining financing commitments from aircraft manufacturers of $676 million
for jet aircraft deliveries beyond 1996. However, the Company believes that
further financing will be needed to satisfy the remaining amount of such
capital commitments. There can be no assurance that sufficient financing will
be available for all aircraft and other capital expenditures not covered by
firm financing commitments.
 
  For 1996, Continental expects to incur cash expenditures under operating
leases of approximately $586 million, compared with $521 million for 1995,
relating to aircraft and approximately $229 million relating to facilities and
other rentals, the same amount as for 1995. In addition, Continental has
capital requirements relating to compliance with regulations that are
discussed below. See "--Regulatory Matters."
 
 
                                      13

<PAGE>
 
  Continental and CMI have secured borrowings from GE which aggregated $373
million as of March 31, 1996. CMI's secured loans contain significant
financial covenants, including requirements to maintain a minimum cash balance
and consolidated net worth, restrictions on unsecured borrowings and mandatory
prepayments on the sale of most assets. These financial covenants limit the
ability of CMI to pay dividends to Continental. In addition, Continental's
secured loans require Continental to, among other things, maintain a minimum
cumulative operating cash flow, a minimum monthly cash balance and a minimum
ratio of operating cash flow to fixed charges. Continental also is prohibited
generally from paying cash dividends on its capital stock, from purchasing or
prepaying indebtedness and from incurring certain additional secured
indebtedness.
 
AIRCRAFT FUEL
 
  Since fuel costs constitute a significant portion of Continental's operating
costs (approximately 12.5% for the year ended December 31, 1995 and 12.9% for
the three months ended March 31, 1996), significant changes in fuel costs
would materially affect the Company's operating results. Fuel prices continue
to be susceptible to international events, and have risen in recent months.
The Company cannot predict near or longer-term fuel prices. The Company has
entered into petroleum option contracts to provide some short-term protection
(currently approximately seven months) against a sharp increase in jet fuel
prices. In the event of a fuel supply shortage resulting from a disruption of
oil imports or otherwise, higher fuel prices or curtailment of scheduled
service could result.
 
CERTAIN TAX MATTERS
 
  As a result of net operating loss carryforwards ("NOLs"), the Company will
not pay United States federal income taxes (other than alternative minimum
tax) until it has recorded approximately an additional $1.2 billion of taxable
income following December 31, 1995. For financial reporting purposes, however,
Continental will be required to begin accruing tax expense on its income
statement once it has realized an additional $122 million of taxable income
following March 31, 1996. Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code imposes
limitations on a corporation's ability to utilize NOLs if it experiences an
"ownership change." In general terms, an ownership change may result from
transactions increasing the ownership of certain stockholders in the stock of
a corporation by more than 50 percentage points over a three-year period. The
sale of the Company's common stock resulting from this offering will give rise
to an increase in percentage ownership by certain stockholders for this
purpose. Based upon the advice of counsel, the Company believes that such
percentage increase will not give rise to an ownership change under Section
382 as a result of the Offering. However, no assurance can be given that
future transactions, whether within or outside the control of the Company,
will not cause a change in ownership, thereby substantially limiting the
potential utilization of the NOLs in a given future year. In the event that an
ownership change should occur, utilization of Continental's NOLs would be
subject to an annual limitation under Section 382. This Section 382 limitation
for any post-change year would be determined by multiplying the value of the
Company's stock (including both common and preferred stock) at the time of the
ownership change by the applicable long-term tax exempt rate (which is 5.31%
for April 1996). Unused annual limitation may be carried over to later years,
and the limitation may under certain circumstances be increased by the built-
in gains in assets held by the Company at the time of the change that are
recognized in the five-year period after the change. Under current conditions,
if an ownership change were to occur, Continental's NOL utilization would be
limited to a minimum of approximately $90 million.
 
  In connection with the Company's 1993 reorganization under Chapter 11 of the
U.S. bankruptcy code effective April 27, 1993 (the "Reorganization") and the
recording of assets and liabilities at fair market value under the American
Institute of Certified Public Accountants' Statement of Position 90-7--
"Financial Reporting by Entities in Reorganization Under the Bankruptcy Code"
("SOP 90-7"), the Company recorded a deferred tax liability at April 27, 1993,
net of the amount of the Company's estimated realizable net operating loss
carryforwards as required by Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No.
109--"Accounting for Income Taxes." Realization of a substantial portion of
the Company's net operating loss carryforwards will require the completion
during the five-year period following the Reorganization of transactions
resulting in recognition of built-in gains for federal income tax purposes.
The Company has consummated one such transaction, which had
 
                                      14

<PAGE>
 
the effect of realizing approximately 40% of the built-in gains required to be
realized over the five-year period, and currently intends to consummate one or
more additional transactions. If the Company were to determine in the future
that not all such transactions will be completed, an adjustment to the net
deferred tax liability of up to $116 million would be charged to income in the
period such determination was made.
 
CMI
 
  CMI's operating profit margins have consistently been greater than the
Company's margins overall. In addition to its non-stop service between Honolulu
and Tokyo, CMI's operations focus on the neighboring islands of Guam and
Saipan, resort destinations that cater primarily to Japanese travelers. Because
the majority of CMI's traffic originates in Japan, its results of operations
are substantially affected by the Japanese economy and changes in the value of
the yen as compared to the dollar. Appreciation of the yen against the dollar
during 1993 and 1994 increased CMI's profitability and a decline of the yen
against the dollar may be expected to decrease it. To reduce the potential
negative impact on CMI's dollar earnings, CMI from time to time purchases
average rate options as a hedge against a portion of its expected net yen cash
flow position. Any significant and sustained decrease in traffic or yields to
and from Japan could materially adversely affect Continental's consolidated
profitability.
 
PRINCIPAL STOCKHOLDERS
 
  As of March 31, 1996, approximately 9.9% of the Company's common equity
interests and approximately 32.4% of the general voting power of the Company's
common stock were held by Air Partners (after giving effect to the distribution
in March of all the 2,742,773 shares of Class B common stock held by Air
Partners to its partners), and approximately 18.0% of the common equity
interests and 23.6% of the general voting power were held by Air Canada,
exclusive in each case of warrants held by Air Partners and certain exchange
rights of Air Canada. Assuming (i) consummation of the transactions described
under "Recent Developments," (ii) consummation of this Offering (and exercise
of the Underwriters' overallotment option) and (iii) exercise of the warrants
held by Air Partners, approximately 8.6% of the common equity interests and
3.2% of the general voting power would be held by Air Canada, and 23.4% of the
common equity interests and 52.2% of the voting power would be held by Air
Partners. See "Principal and Selling Stockholders."
 
  Various provisions in the Company's Certificate of Incorporation, Bylaws and
the Stockholders' Agreement currently provide Air Partners and Air Canada with
a variety of special rights to elect directors and otherwise affect the
corporate governance of the Company; a number of these provisions could have
the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing a change in control of the
Company. See "Description of Capital Stock--Corporate Governance and Control."
The Company has proposed to eliminate a number of these provisions and will
propose for approval by its stockholders the related amendments to the
Certificate of Incorporation at the Annual Meeting. Air Canada and Air Partners
have agreed to vote in favor of these amendments at the Annual Meeting. See
"Recent Developments."
 
LIMITATION ON VOTING BY FOREIGN OWNERS
 
  The Company's Certificate of Incorporation provides that no shares of capital
stock may be voted by or at the direction of persons who are not citizens of
the United States unless the shares are registered on a separate stock record.
The Company's Bylaws further provide that no shares will be registered on this
separate stock record if the amount so registered would exceed Foreign
Ownership Restrictions (as defined herein). United States law currently
requires that no more than 25% of the voting stock of the Company (or any other
domestic airline) may be owned directly or indirectly by persons who are not
citizens of the United States. See "Description of Capital Stock--Class A
Common Stock and Class B Common Stock--Limitation on Voting by Foreign Owners."
 
 
                                       15

<PAGE>
 
INDUSTRY CONDITIONS AND COMPETITION
 
  The airline industry is highly competitive and susceptible to price
discounting. The Company has in the past both responded to discounting actions
taken by other carriers and initiated significant discounting actions itself.
Continental's competitors include carriers with substantially greater financial
resources, as well as smaller carriers with lower cost structures. Airline
profit levels are highly sensitive to, and during recent years have been
severely impacted by, changes in fuel costs, fare levels (or "average yield")
and passenger demand. Passenger demand and yields have been adversely affected
by, among other things, the general state of the economy, international events
and actions taken by carriers with respect to fares. From 1990 to 1993, these
factors contributed to the domestic airline industry's incurring unprecedented
losses. Although fare levels have increased recently, significant industry-wide
discounts could be reimplemented at any time, and the introduction of broadly
available, deeply discounted fares by a major United States airline would
likely result in lower yields for the entire industry and could have a material
adverse effect on the Company's operating results.
 
  The airline industry has consolidated in past years as a result of mergers
and liquidations and may further consolidate in the future. Among other
effects, such consolidation has allowed certain of Continental's major
competitors to expand (in particular) their international operations and
increase their market strength. Furthermore, the emergence in recent years of
several new carriers, typically with low cost structures, has further increased
the competitive pressures on the major United States airlines. In many cases,
the new entrants have initiated or triggered price discounting. Aircraft,
skilled labor and gates at most airports continue to be readily available to
start-up carriers. Although management believes that Continental is better able
than some of its major competitors to compete with fares offered by start-up
carriers because of its lower cost structure, competition with new carriers or
other low cost competitors on Continental's routes could negatively impact
Continental's operating results.
 
REGULATORY MATTERS
 
  In the last several years, the United States Federal Aviation Administration
(the "FAA") has issued a number of maintenance directives and other regulations
relating to, among other things, retirement of older aircraft, collision
avoidance systems, airborne windshear avoidance systems, noise abatement,
commuter aircraft safety and increased inspections and maintenance procedures
to be conducted on older aircraft. The Company expects to continue incurring
expenses for the purpose of complying with the FAA's noise and aging aircraft
regulations. In addition, several airports have recently sought to increase
substantially the rates charged to airlines, and the ability of airlines to
contest such increases has been restricted by federal legislation, DOT
regulations and judicial decisions.
 
  Management believes that the Company benefitted from the expiration of the
aviation trust fund tax (the "ticket tax") on December 31, 1995, although the
amount of any such benefit directly resulting from the expiration of the ticket
tax cannot be determined. Reinstatement of the ticket tax will result in higher
costs to consumers, which may have an adverse effect on passenger traffic,
revenue and margins. The Company is unable to predict when or in what form the
ticket tax may be reenacted.
 
  Additional laws and regulations have been proposed from time to time that
could significantly increase the cost of airline operations by imposing
additional requirements or restrictions on operations. Laws and regulations
have also been considered that would prohibit or restrict the ownership and/or
transfer of airline routes or takeoff and landing slots. Also, the availability
of international routes to United States carriers is regulated by treaties and
related agreements between the United States and foreign governments that are
amendable. Continental cannot predict what laws and regulations may be adopted
or their impact, but there can be no assurance that laws or regulations
currently enacted or enacted in the future will not adversely affect the
Company.
 
                                       16

<PAGE>
 
                              RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
 
  On April 19, the Company's Board of Directors approved agreements (the
"Agreements") with its two major shareholders, Air Canada and Air Partners. The
Agreements contain a variety of arrangements intended generally to reflect the
intention that Air Canada has expressed to the Company of divesting its
investment in Continental by early 1997, subject to market conditions. Air
Canada has indicated to the Company that its original investment in Continental
has become less central to Air Canada in light of other initiatives it has
undertaken (particularly expansion within Canada and exploitation of the 1995
Open Skies agreement to expand Air Canada's own flights into the U.S.), and
that given such initiatives Air Canada has determined it appropriate to
redeploy the funds invested in the Company into other uses in Air Canada's
business. The Agreements also reflect Air Partners' recent distribution to the
various investors in Air Partners (the "AP Investors") of the Class B common
stock that it owned and the desire of some of those investors to realize upon
portions of their investment in Class B common stock. The Agreements call for
the Company to undertake the Offering, and upon the closing of the Offering:
 
  . in light of its then-reduced equity stake, Air Canada will no longer be
    entitled to designate directors of Continental, will cause the four
    present or former members of Air Canada's Board of Directors currently
    serving as Continental directors to decline nomination for reelection as
    directors, and will convert all of its Class A common stock to Class B
    common stock;
 
  . Air Canada and Air Partners will enter into a number of agreements
    restricting, prior to December 16, 1996, further disposition of stock
    held by either of them; and
 
  . the existing Stockholders' Agreement and Registration Rights Agreement
    among the parties will be modified in a number of respects to reflect the
    changing composition of the respective equity interests, as well as other
    factors.
 
  Reflecting the reduction of Air Canada's interest and its directors' decision
not to stand for reelection if the Offering is consummated, along with the
expiration of various provisions specifically included at the time of the
Company's reorganization, Continental's Board of Directors has also approved
changes to the Company's Certificate of Incorporation and Bylaws (the "Proposed
Amendments") generally eliminating special classes of directors (except for Air
Partners' right to elect directors in certain circumstances) and supermajority
provisions, and making a variety of other modifications aimed at streamlining
the Company's corporate governance structure.
 
  The Proposed Amendments also provide that, effective January 1, 1997, Class A
common stock would become freely convertible into Class B common stock. Under
agreements put in place at the time of the Company's Reorganization, and
designed in part to ensure compliance with the foreign ownership limitations
applicable to United States air carriers in light of the substantial stake in
the Company then held by Air Canada, holders of Class A common stock (other
than Air Canada) are not currently permitted under the Company's Certificate of
Incorporation to convert their shares to Class B common stock. In recent
periods, the market price of Class A common stock has generally been below the
price of Class B common stock, which the Company believes is attributable in
part to the reduced liquidity present in the trading market for Class A common
stock. A number of Class A stockholders have requested that the Company provide
for free convertibility of Class A common stock into Class B common stock, and
in light of the reduction of Air Canada's equity stake, the Company has
determined that the restriction is no longer necessary.
 
  The Company and Air Canada also expect to enter into discussions regarding
modifications to the Company's existing "synergy" agreements with Air Canada,
covering items such as maintenance and ground facilities, with a view to
resolving certain outstanding commercial issues under the agreements and
otherwise modifying the agreements to reflect Continental's and Air Canada's
current needs. Subject to certain conditions, the Company also expects to enter
into an agreement with Air Partners for the sale by Air Partners to the Company
of up to $50 million in intrinsic value (then-current Class B common stock
price minus exercise price) of Air Partners' Class B warrants. Upon execution
of the agreement, the Company will reclassify $50 million from common equity to
a classification similar to redeemable preferred stock.
 
                                       17

<PAGE>
 
  Because certain aspects of the Agreements raised issues under the change in
control provisions of certain of the Company's employment agreements and
employee benefit plans, these agreements and plans are being modified to
provide a revised change of control definition that the Company believes is
appropriate in light of the prospective changes to its equity ownership
structure. In connection with the modifications, payments are being made to
certain employees, benefits are being granted to certain employees and options
equal to 10% of the amount of the options previously granted to each optionee
are being granted (subject to certain conditions) to substantially all
employees holding outstanding options.
 
  Certain of the Proposed Amendments and employee benefit actions are subject
to stockholder approval at the Annual Meeting. Air Canada and Air Partners
(who will, as of the record date, April 30, 1996, own shares constituting
approximately 56% of the overall voting power of the Company) have agreed to
vote their shares in favor of these proposals. A majority vote of shareholders
is required to approve the employee benefit matters; a two-thirds vote is
required to approve the Proposed Amendments.
 
  Following the anticipated sale of Air Canada's Class B common stock in the
Offering (and exercise of the Underwriters' overallotment option) and the
conversion of all its Class A common stock to Class B common stock, Air Canada
is expected to own approximately 4.0% of the voting power and 10.1% of the
equity of the Company and Air Partners to own approximately 39.4% of the
voting power and 9.9% of the equity of the Company (assuming no exercise of
the warrants held by Air Partners).
 
                                      18

<PAGE>
 
                                USE OF PROCEEDS
 
  All of the Shares to which this Prospectus relates are being offered by the
Selling Stockholders. Continental will not receive any of the proceeds from
the sale of such Shares.
 
                  MARKET PRICE OF COMMON STOCK AND DIVIDENDS
 
  The Class A common stock and the Class B common stock are listed for trading
on the NYSE, which is its principal market. As of March 31, 1996, there were
approximately 3,928 and 9,176 holders of record of Continental's Class A and
Class B common stock, respectively.
 
  Certain of the Company's credit agreements currently restrict the Company's
ability to pay cash dividends to its common stockholders. The Company has not
paid any cash dividends on its common stock and has no current intention of
doing so.
 
  The table below shows the quarterly high and low sales prices for the
Company's Class A common stock and Class B common stock as reported on the
NYSE since January 1, 1994.
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                                 CLASS A COMMON  CLASS B COMMON
                                                   STOCK PRICE     STOCK PRICE
                                                 --------------- ---------------
PERIOD                                            HIGH     LOW    HIGH     LOW
- ------                                           ------- ------- ------- -------
<S>                                              <C>     <C>     <C>     <C>
1994
  First Quarter................................. $30 3/4 $18 3/4 $27 1/4 $16 7/8
  Second Quarter................................  21      13 1/2  19 3/4  11 1/4
  Third Quarter.................................  22 1/4  14      21 1/2  13
  Fourth Quarter................................  18 1/2   8 1/8  18 1/8   7 1/2
1995
  First Quarter.................................  12 1/8   7      12 1/4   6 1/2
  Second Quarter................................  25 3/4  10 3/8  25 3/4  10 5/8
  Third Quarter.................................  39 3/4  23 1/8  40 1/8  23 3/8
  Fourth Quarter................................  46 7/8  34 3/8  47 1/2  34 3/4
1996
  First Quarter.................................  54      38 1/4  56 3/8  38 7/8
  Second Quarter (through April 19).............  59 1/2  54 1/4  61      56 1/4
</TABLE>

 
  The last reported sale prices for the Company's Class A common stock and
Class B common stock on the NYSE on April 19, 1996 were $57 3/4 and $59 3/8,
respectively.
 
                                      19

<PAGE>
 
                            SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
 
  The following tables set forth selected financial data of (i) the Company
for the three months ended March 31, 1996 and 1995, the two years ended
December 31, 1995 and 1994 and for the period from April 28, 1993 through
December 31, 1993 and (ii) Holdings for the period from January 1, 1993
through April 27, 1993. The consolidated financial data of both the Company,
for the two years ended December 31, 1995 and for the period from April 28,
1993 through December 31, 1993, and Holdings, for the period from January 1,
1993 through April 27, 1993, are derived from their respective audited
consolidated financial statements. On April 27, 1993, in connection with the
Reorganization, the Company adopted fresh start reporting in accordance with
SOP 90-7 (as defined herein). A vertical black line is shown in the table
below to separate Continental's post-reorganized consolidated financial data
from the pre-reorganized consolidated financial data of Holdings since they
have not been prepared on a consistent basis of accounting. The consolidated
financial data of the Company for the three months ended March 31, 1996 and
1995 are derived from its unaudited consolidated financial statements, which
include all adjustments (consisting solely of normal recurring accruals) that
the Company considers necessary for the presentation of the financial position
and results of operations for these periods. Operating results for the three
months ended March 31, 1996 are not necessarily indicative of the results that
may be expected for the year ending December 31, 1996. The selected
consolidated financial data should be read in conjunction with, and are
qualified in their entirety by reference to, the consolidated financial
statements, including the notes thereto, incorporated by reference herein. See
"Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of
Operations."

<TABLE>
 
<CAPTION>
                                                                    PERIOD FROM
                                                                  REORGANIZATION  PERIOD FROM
                           THREE MONTHS       YEAR ENDED          (APRIL 28, 1993  JANUARY 1,
                          ENDED MARCH 31,    DECEMBER 31,             THROUGH     1993 THROUGH
                          ----------------  -----------------      DECEMBER 31,    APRIL 27,
                           1996     1995     1995      1994            1993)          1993
                          -------  -------  ------    -------     --------------- ------------
                                (IN MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, EXCEPT PER SHARE DATA)
                            (UNAUDITED)
<S>                       <C>      <C>      <C>       <C>         <C>             <C>
STATEMENT OF OPERATIONS
 DATA:
Operating Revenue:
 Passenger..............  $ 1,375  $ 1,240  $5,302    $ 5,036         $3,493         $1,622
 Cargo, mail and other..      114      169     523        634            417            235
                          -------  -------  ------    -------         ------         ------
                            1,489    1,409   5,825      5,670          3,910          1,857
                          -------  -------  ------    -------         ------         ------
Operating Expenses:
 Wages, salaries and re-
  lated costs...........      364      366   1,432(1)   1,532          1,000            502
 Aircraft fuel..........      177      169     681        741            540            272
 Aircraft rentals.......      124      123     497        433            261            154
 Commissions............      126      119     489        439            378            175
 Maintenance, materials
  and repairs...........      112       97     429        495            363            184
 Other rentals and land-
  ing fees..............       84       92     356        392            258            120
 Depreciation and amor-
  tization..............       65       64     253        258            162             77
 Other..................      317      351   1,303      1,391            853            487
                          -------  -------  ------    -------         ------         ------
                            1,369    1,381   5,440      5,681          3,815          1,971
                          -------  -------  ------    -------         ------         ------
Operating Income
 (Loss).................      120       28     385        (11)            95           (114)
                          -------  -------  ------    -------         ------         ------
Nonoperating Income (Ex-
 pense):
 Interest expense.......      (47)     (53)   (213)      (241)          (165)           (52)
 Interest capitalized...        1        1       6         17              8              2
 Interest income........        9        6      31         23             14            --
 Gain on System One
  transactions..........      --       --      108        --             --             --
 Reorganization items,
  net...................      --       --      --         --             --            (818)
 Other, net.............       12      (10)     (7)      (439)(2)         (4)             5
                          -------  -------  ------    -------         ------         ------
                              (25)     (56)    (75)      (640)          (147)          (863)
                          -------  -------  ------    -------         ------         ------
Income (Loss) before In-
 come Taxes, Minority
 Interest and Extraordi-
 nary Gain..............       95      (28)    310       (651)           (52)          (977)
Net Income (Loss).......  $    88  $   (30) $  224    $  (613)        $  (39)        $2,640 (3)
Earnings (Loss) per Com-
 mon and Common Equiva-
 lent Share.............  $  2.70  $ (1.21) $ 7.20    $(23.76)        $(2.33)          N.M. (4)
                          =======  =======  ======    =======         ======
Earnings (Loss) per
 Common Share Assuming
 Full Dilution..........  $  2.36  $ (1.21) $ 6.29    $(23.76)        $(2.33)          N.M. (4)
                          =======  =======  ======    =======         ======
</TABLE>

 
                                      20

<PAGE>
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                                           AS OF       AS OF
                                                         MARCH 31,  DECEMBER 31,
                                                           1996         1995
                                                        ----------- ------------
                                                        (IN MILLIONS OF DOLLARS)
BALANCE SHEET DATA:                                     (UNAUDITED)
<S>                                                     <C>         <C>
Cash and Cash Equivalents, including restricted Cash
 and Cash Equivalents of $124 and $144,
 respectively(5)......................................    $  657       $  747
Other Current Assets..................................       655          568
Total Property and Equipment, Net.....................     1,410        1,461
Routes, Gates and Slots, Net..........................     1,517        1,531
Other Assets, Net.....................................       507          514
                                                          ------       ------
 Total Assets.........................................    $4,746       $4,821
                                                          ======       ======
Current Liabilities...................................    $2,040       $1,984
Long-term Debt and Capital Leases.....................     1,462        1,658
Deferred Credits and Other Long-term Liabilities......       542          564
Minority Interest.....................................        28           27
Continental-Obligated Mandatorily Redeemable Preferred
 Securities of Trust(6)...............................       242          242
Redeemable Preferred Stock............................        42           41
Common Stockholders' Equity...........................       390          305
                                                          ------       ------
 Total Liabilities and Stockholders' Equity...........    $4,746       $4,821
                                                          ======       ======
</TABLE>

- --------
(1) Includes a $20 million cash payment in 1995 by the Company in connection
    with a 24-month collective bargaining agreement entered into by the
    Company and the Independent Association of Continental Pilots.
(2) Includes a provision of $447 million recorded in the fourth quarter of
    1994 associated with the planned early retirement of certain aircraft and
    closed or underutilized airport and maintenance facilities and other
    assets.
(3) Includes a $3.6 billion extraordinary gain from extinguishment of debt.
(4) Historical per share data for the Predecessor Company is not meaningful
    since the Company has been recapitalized and has adopted fresh start
    reporting as of April 27, 1993.
(5) Restricted cash and cash equivalents agreements relate primarily to
    workers' compensation claims and the terms of certain other agreements. In
    addition, CMI is required by its loan agreement with GE to maintain
    certain minimum cash balances and net worth levels, which effectively
    restrict the amount of cash available to Continental from CMI.
(6) The sole assets of the Trust are convertible debentures which are expected
    to be repaid by 2020. Upon repayment, the Continental-Obligated
    Mandatorily Redeemable Preferred Securities of Trust will be mandatorily
    redeemed.
 
                                      21

<PAGE>
 

                     MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS
               OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
 
RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
 
  The following discussion provides an analysis of the Company's results of
operations and reasons for material changes therein for the three months ended
March 31, 1996 as compared to the corresponding period ended March 31, 1995.
 
  For an analysis of the Company's results of operations for the year ended
December 31, 1995 as compared to the year ended December 31, 1994 and for the
year ended December 31, 1994 as compared to the year ended December 31, 1993,
see the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31,
1995 incorporated by reference herein.
 
 Comparison of Three Months Ended March 31, 1996 to Three Months Ended March
31, 1995
 
  Continental's financial and operating performance improved dramatically in
the first quarter of 1996 compared to the first quarter of 1995, reflecting
among other things, continued implementation of the Company's strategic
program to enhance the fundamentals of its operations, rationalize capacity,
improve customer service and employee relations and strengthen Continental's
balance sheet and liquidity. In addition, management believes that the Company
benefitted from the expiration of the ticket tax on December 31, 1995,
although the amount of any such benefit directly resulting from the expiration
of the ticket tax cannot be determined. The Company recorded consolidated net
income of $88 million for the three months ended March 31, 1996 as compared to
a consolidated net loss of $30 million for the three months ended March 31,
1995. The Company's net income in the first quarter of 1996 included a $12.5
million gain related to the sale of approximately 1.4 million shares of
America West common stock.
 
  Implementation of the Company's route realignment and capacity
rationalization initiatives reduced capacity by 9.1% in the first quarter of
1996 as compared to the first quarter of 1995. This decrease in capacity,
combined with a 2.0% increase in traffic, produced a 7.3 percentage point
increase in load factor to 67.0%. This higher load factor, combined with a
7.6% increase in the average yield per revenue passenger mile, contributed to
a 10.9% increase in passenger revenue to $1.4 billion despite the decreased
capacity.
 
  Cargo, mail and other revenue decreased 32.5%, $55 million, in the three
months ended March 31, 1996 as compared to the same period in the prior year,
principally as a result of the transactions involving the Company's System One
Information Management, Inc. ("System One") subsidiary, which were effective
April 27, 1995.
 
  Wages, salaries and related costs decreased 0.6%, $2 million, during the
quarter ended March 31, 1996 as compared to the same period in 1995, primarily
due to a reduction in the number of full-time equivalent employees from
approximately 35,000 as of March 31, 1995 to approximately 32,900 as of March
31, 1996. Such decrease was substantially offset by accruals totalling $15
million for employee profit sharing and other incentive programs, including
the payment of bonuses for on-time airline performance. In addition, wage
rates were impacted by a longevity pay increase for substantially all employee
groups, effective July 1, 1995.
 
  Aircraft fuel expense increased 4.7%, $8 million, in the three months ended
March 31, 1996 as compared to the same period in the prior year. The average
price per gallon increased 12.7% from 52.61 cents in the first quarter of 1995
to 59.31 cents in the first quarter of 1996. Such increase was partially
offset by a 7.1% decrease in the quantity of jet fuel used from 312 million
gallons in the first quarter of 1995 to 290 million gallons in the first
quarter of 1996, principally reflecting capacity reductions and increased
stage lengths.
 
  Commission expense increased 5.9%, $7 million, in the quarter ended March
31, 1996 as compared to the same period in the prior year, primarily due to
increased passenger revenue.
 
  Maintenance, materials and repairs increased 15.5%, $15 million, during the
quarter ended March 31, 1996 as compared to the same period in 1995, due
principally to the volume and timing of engine overhauls as part of the
Company's ongoing maintenance program.
 
                                      22

<PAGE>
 
  Other rentals and landing fees decreased 8.7%, $8 million, for the three
months ended March 31, 1996 compared to the same period in 1995, principally
due to reduced facility rentals and landing fees resulting from capacity
reductions.
 
  Other operating expense decreased 9.7%, $34 million, in the three months
ended March 31, 1996 as compared to the same period in the prior year,
primarily as a result of the System One transactions (which were effective
April 27, 1995) coupled with decreases in advertising expense and other
miscellaneous expense.
 
  Interest expense decreased 11.3%, $6 million, during the three months ended
March 31, 1996 as compared to the same period in 1995, primarily due to
principal reductions of long-term debt and capital lease obligations.
 
  Interest income increased 50.0%, $3 million, in the first quarter of 1996
compared to the same period in the prior year, principally due to an increase
in the average interest rate earned on investments coupled with an increase in
the average invested balance of cash and cash equivalents.
 
  The Company's other nonoperating income (expense) in the quarter ended March
31, 1996 included a $12.5 million gain related to the sale of approximately
1.4 million shares of America West common stock (39 cents and 32 cents per
primary and fully diluted share, respectively). Other nonoperating income
(expense) in the first quarter of 1995 consisted primarily of foreign exchange
and other losses of $9.6 million (related to the Japanese yen and Mexican
peso).
 
  The income tax provision for the three months ended March 31, 1996 consists
of foreign income taxes. No provision for federal income taxes was recorded
for the three months ended March 31, 1996 or 1995 since the Company had
previously incurred net operating losses for which a tax benefit had not
previously been recorded.
 
  An analysis of statistical information for Continental's jet operations for
the periods indicated is as follows:
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                                 THREE MONTHS
                                                ENDED MARCH 31,
                                                ----------------  NET INCREASE/
                                                 1996     1995     (DECREASE)
                                                -------  -------  -------------
   <S>                                          <C>      <C>      <C>
   Revenue passenger miles (millions) (a).....    9,752    9,561         2.0%
   Available seat miles (millions) (b)........   14,551   16,003        (9.1)%
   Block hours (thousands) (c)................      270      281        (3.9)%
   Passenger load factor (d)..................     67.0%    59.7%    7.3pts.
   Breakeven passenger load factor (e)........     61.0%    58.2%    2.8pts.
   Passenger revenue per available seat mile
    (cents) (f)...............................     8.90     7.37        20.8%
   Total revenue per available seat mile
    (cents) (g)...............................     9.77     8.15        19.9%
   Operating cost per available seat mile
    (cents) (h)...............................     8.92     7.90        12.9%
   Operating cost per block hour..............  $ 4,806  $ 4,496         6.9%
   Average yield per revenue passenger mile
    (cents) (i)...............................    13.28    12.34         7.6%
   Average fare per revenue passenger.........  $142.54  $129.10        10.4%
   Revenue passengers (thousands).............    9,087    9,141       (0.6)%
   Average length of aircraft flight (miles)..      876      803         9.1%
   Average daily utilization of each aircraft
    (hours) (j)...............................     9:29     9:34       (0.5)%
   Actual aircraft in fleet at end of period..      314      324       (3.1)%
</TABLE>

- --------
(a) The number of scheduled miles flown by revenue passengers.
(b) The number of seats available for passengers multiplied by the number of
    scheduled miles those seats are flown.
(c) The number of hours an aircraft is operated in revenue service from gate-
    to-gate.
(d) Revenue passenger miles divided by available seat miles.
(e) The percentage of seats that must be occupied by revenue passengers in
    order for the airline to break even on an income before income taxes
    basis, excluding nonrecurring charges, nonoperating items and other
    special items.
 
                                      23

<PAGE>
 
(f) Passenger revenue divided by available seat miles.
(g) Total revenue divided by available seat miles.
(h) Operating expenses divided by available seat miles.
(i) The average revenue received for each mile a revenue passenger is carried.
(j) The average block hours flown per day in revenue service per aircraft.
 
LIQUIDITY AND CAPITAL COMMITMENTS
 
  In the first quarter of 1996, the Company completed a number of transactions
intended to strengthen its long-term financial position and enhance earnings.
On January 31, the Company consummated the offering of $489 million of
enhanced pass-through certificates that refinanced the underlying debt
associated with 18 leased aircraft and will reduce Continental's annual
operating lease expense by more than $15 million for the affected aircraft.
During January and February, Continental repurchased or redeemed without
prepayment penalty the remaining amount of the Series A convertible secured
debentures for $125 million (including payment-in-kind interest of $7
million). In February, Continental sold approximately 1.4 million of the
shares it owned in America West, realizing net proceeds of approximately $25
million and recognizing a gain of $12.5 million. On March 26, Continental sold
$230 million of 6 3/4% convertible subordinated notes. The net proceeds from
this offering and from the America West stock sale, as well as cash on hand,
were used for the repayment of certain outstanding GE indebtedness totaling
$257 million (of which $47 million was required as a result of the convertible
debt financing and the America West stock sale and $210 million was an
optional prepayment).
 
  As a result of NOLs, the Company will not pay United States federal income
taxes (other than alternative minimum tax) until it has recorded approximately
an additional $1.2 billion of taxable income following December 31, 1995. For
financial reporting purposes, however, Continental will be required to begin
accruing tax expense on its income statement once it has realized an
additional $122 million of taxable income following March 31, 1996. Section
382 of the Internal Revenue Code imposes limitations on a corporation's
ability to utilize NOLs if it experiences an "ownership change." In general
terms, an ownership change may result from transactions increasing the
ownership of certain stockholders in the stock of a corporation by more than
50 percentage points over a three-year period. However, no assurance can be
given that future transactions, whether within or outside the control of the
Company, will not cause a change in ownership, thereby substantially limiting
the potential utilization of the NOLs in a given future year. In the event
that an ownership change should occur, utilization of Continental's NOLs would
be subject to an annual limitation under Section 382. The Section 382
limitation for any post-change year would be determined by multiplying the
value of the Company's stock (including both common and preferred stock) at
the time of the ownership change by the applicable long-term tax exempt rate
(which is 5.31% for April 1996). Unused annual limitation may be carried over
to later years, and the limitation may under certain circumstances be
increased by the built-in gains in assets held by the Company at the time of
the change that are recognized in the five-year period after the change. Under
current conditions, if an ownership change were to occur, Continental's NOL
utilization would be limited to a minimum of approximately $90 million.
 
  Continental has firm commitments with Boeing to take delivery of one new 757
aircraft in April 1996 and 43 new jet aircraft during the years 1998 through
2002. The estimated aggregate cost of these aircraft is $2.6 billion. In
addition, six Beech 1900-D turboprop aircraft are scheduled to be delivered
later in 1996. The Company currently anticipates that the firm financing
commitments available to it with respect to its acquisition of new aircraft
from Boeing and Beech will be sufficient to fund all deliveries scheduled
during 1996, and that it will have remaining financing commitments from
aircraft manufacturers of $676 million for jet aircraft deliveries beyond
1996.
 
  In addition, in March 1996, Express entered into an agreement to acquire
eight new ATR aircraft that are expected to be placed into service during
1996. These aircraft will be accounted for as operating leases. In conjunction
with the acquisition, in 1996, the Company will return eight older ATR
aircraft accounted for as capital leases.
 
  Continental expects its cash outlays for 1996 capital expenditures,
exclusive of aircraft acquisitions, to aggregate $120 million primarily
relating to mainframe, software application and automation infrastructure
projects, aircraft modifications and mandatory maintenance projects, passenger
terminal facility improvements
 
                                      24

<PAGE>
 
and office, maintenance, telecommunications and ground equipment.
Continental's capital expenditures during the three months ended March 31,
1996, aggregated $14 million, exclusive of aircraft acquisitions.
 
  The Company expects to fund its 1996 and future capital commitments through
internally generated funds, together with general Company financings and
aircraft financing transactions. However, there can be no assurance that
sufficient financing will be available for all aircraft and other capital
expenditures not covered by firm financing commitments.
 
  As of March 31, 1996, the Company had $657 million in cash and cash
equivalents, compared to $747 million as of December 31, 1995. Net cash
provided by operating activities increased $74 million during the three months
ended March 31, 1996 compared to the same period in the prior year principally
due to earnings improvement. In addition, net cash provided by investing
activities increased $9 million, primarily as a result of proceeds received
from the sale of approximately 1.4 million shares of Continental's America
West stock slightly offset by higher net capital expenditures in 1996. Net
cash used by financing activities for the three months ended March 31, 1996
compared to the same period in the prior year increased $194 million primarily
due to the repayment of long-term debt using in part, proceeds received from
the issuance of the 6 3/4% convertible subordinated notes.
 
  Continental does not have general lines of credit, and substantially all of
its assets, including the stock of its subsidiaries, are encumbered.
 
  Approximately $124 million and $144 million of cash and cash equivalents at
March 31, 1996 and December 31, 1995, respectively, were held in restricted
arrangements relating primarily to workers' compensation claims and in
accordance with the terms of certain other agreements. Continental and CMI, a
91% owned subsidiary, have secured borrowings from GE which as of March 31,
1996 and December 31, 1995 aggregated $373 million and $634 million,
respectively. CMI's secured loans contain significant financial covenants,
including requirements to maintain a minimum cash balance and consolidated net
worth, restrictions on unsecured borrowings and mandatory prepayments on the
sale of most assets. These financial covenants limit the ability of CMI to pay
dividends to Continental. As of March 31, 1996, CMI had a minimum cash balance
requirement of $30 million. In addition, certain of Continental's secured
loans require the Company to, among other things, maintain a minimum
cumulative operating cash flow, a minimum monthly cash balance and a minimum
ratio of operating cash flow to fixed charges. Continental also is prohibited
generally from paying cash dividends in respect of its capital stock, from
purchasing or prepaying indebtedness and from incurring certain additional
secured indebtedness.
 
  The Company has entered into petroleum option contracts to provide some
short-term protection (currently approximately seven months) against a sharp
increase in jet fuel prices, and CMI has entered into average rate option
contracts to hedge a portion of its Japanese yen-denominated ticket sales
against a significant depreciation in the value of the yen versus the United
States dollar. The petroleum option contracts generally cover the Company's
forecasted jet fuel needs for the next three to nine months, and the average
rate option contracts cover a portion of CMI's yen-denominated ticket sales
for the next three to nine months. At March 31, 1996, the Company had
petroleum option contracts outstanding with an aggregate notional value of
$252 million and CMI had an average rate option contract outstanding with a
contract value of $158 million. At March 31, 1996, the carrying value of the
option contracts was immaterial. The Company and CMI are exposed to credit
loss in the event of nonperformance by the counterparties on the option
contracts; however, management does not anticipate nonperformance by these
counterparties. The amount of such exposure is generally the unrealized gains,
if any, on such option contracts.
 
  Management believes that the Company's costs are likely to be affected in
1996 by, among other factors, (i) increased wages, salaries and benefits, (ii)
higher aircraft rental expense as new aircraft are delivered, (iii) changes in
the costs of materials and services (in particular, the cost of fuel, which
can fluctuate significantly in response to global market conditions), (iv)
changes in governmental regulations and taxes affecting air transportation and
the costs charged for airport access, (v) changes in the Company's fleet and
related capacity and (vi) the Company's continuing efforts to reduce costs
throughout its operations.
 
                                      25

<PAGE>
 
                      PRINCIPAL AND SELLING STOCKHOLDERS
 
  The following table sets forth, as of March 31, 1996 (except as otherwise
set forth below), certain information with respect to the Selling Stockholders
and with respect to persons owning beneficially (to the knowledge of the
Company) more than five percent of any class of the Company's voting
securities. The table also sets forth the respective general voting power of
such persons. Information set forth in the following table is based on reports
filed with the Commission pursuant to the Exchange Act and on information that
has been furnished to the Company by the respective stockholders. In
accordance with regulations promulgated by the Commission, the table shows the
effect of the exercise of warrants by Air Partners, and, in the case of Air
Canada, the exchange of certain shares of Class B common stock for Class A
common stock, but, in determining the denominator used to show percentage
ownership of such person, does not assume the exercise of warrants or the
exchange of shares owned by any other person. In addition to the shares owned
directly, each of the partners in Air Partners owns an interest in Air
Partners and may be deemed to beneficially own a portion of the Continental
securities owned by Air Partners.
 
  The table does not show under "General Voting Power" the effect of Air
Canada's potential exchange of certain shares of Class B common stock for an
equal number of shares of Class A common stock, because the voting of most of
the Class A common stock acquirable as a result of such exchange would
currently be prohibited by applicable Foreign Ownership Restrictions. Such
information is, however, shown in the footnotes to the table. Upon completion
of the Offering, Air Canada will convert all of its shares of Class A common
stock into Class B common stock and irrevocably waive its right to exchange
Class B common stock for Class A common stock. See "Recent Developments."
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                           SHARES BENEFICIALLY OWNED PRIOR TO THE
                                          OFFERING
                          --------------------------------------------------
                          CLASS OF                                 GENERAL
                           COMMON                       PERCENT    VOTING       SHARES BEING
    BENEFICIAL OWNER        STOCK       NUMBER         OF CLASS   POWER(1)        OFFERED
    ----------------      ----------  ------------     ---------- ----------    ------------
<S>                       <C>         <C>              <C>        <C>           <C>
Air Canada..............     Class A     2,740,000(2)       37.1%      23.6%(3)        --
 Air Canada Center           Class B     3,338,944(5)       15.5%                2,000,000(6)
 Montreal Int'l
 Airport (Dorval)
 P.O. Box 14000
 Postal Station, St.
 Laurent
 Canada H4Y 1H4
Air Partners, L.P.(8)...     Class A     4,259,734(9)       54.5%      44.6%           --
 2420 Texas Commerce         Class B     3,382,632(10)      13.6%
  Tower                                                                                --
 201 Main Street
 Fort Worth, TX 75102
American General Corpo-
 ration.................     Class A       774,496(11)      11.8%      10.0%           --
 2929 Allen Parkway       Class B          997,381(12)       4.8%                  382,074
 Houston, TX 77019
FMR Corp................     Class B     3,182,837(13)      14.7%       3.8%           --
 82 Devonshire Street
 Boston, MA 02109
David Bonderman.........  Class B        4,351,138(14)                             114,586
Bonderman Family Limited
 Partnership............  Class A            8,200                                     --
                          Class B          441,225                                  33,219
Estate of Larry L.
 Hillblom...............  Class B          319,800                                 319,800
DHL Management, Inc.....  Class B          322,970                                 322,970
Sun America, Inc. ......  Class B          143,152                                 143,152
Eli Broad...............  Class B           95,434                                  66,488
Donald Sturm............  Class B          238,464                                 120,000
Conair, L.P. ...........  Class B           38,282                                  38,282
<CAPTION>
                           SHARES BENEFICIALLY OWNED AFTER
                                    THE OFFERING
                          --------------------------------------------
                                                            GENERAL
                                                PERCENT      VOTING
    BENEFICIAL OWNER        NUMBER              OF CLASS    POWER(1)
    ----------------      -------------------- ----------- -----------
<S>                       <C>                  <C>         <C>
Air Canada..............               0(4)
 Air Canada Center             3,000,000(4)(7)
 Montreal Int'l
 Airport (Dorval)
 P.O. Box 14000
 Postal Station, St.
 Laurent
 Canada H4Y 1H4
Air Partners, L.P.(8)...
 2420 Texas Commerce
  Tower
 201 Main Street
 Fort Worth, TX 75102
American General Corpo-
 ration.................
 2929 Allen Parkway              615,307(12)
 Houston, TX 77019
FMR Corp................       3,182,837(13)
 82 Devonshire Street
 Boston, MA 02109
David Bonderman.........
Bonderman Family Limited
 Partnership............
Estate of Larry L.
 Hillblom...............
DHL Management, Inc.....
Sun America, Inc. ......
Eli Broad...............
Donald Sturm............
Conair, L.P. ...........
</TABLE>

 
                                      26

<PAGE>
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                         SHARES BENEFICIALLY OWNED PRIOR TO THE                       SHARES BENEFICIALLY OWNED AFTER
                                        OFFERING                                               THE OFFERING
                         ----------------------------------------------              ---------------------------------
                         CLASS OF                             GENERAL                                        GENERAL
  NAME AND ADDRESS OF     COMMON                   PERCENT    VOTING    SHARES BEING             PERCENT     VOTING
   BENEFICIAL HOLDER       STOCK       NUMBER     OF CLASS   POWER(1)     OFFERED     NUMBER    OF CLASS    POWER(1)
  -------------------    -----------  ----------- ---------- ---------- ------------ --------------------- -----------
<S>                      <C>          <C>         <C>        <C>        <C>          <C>       <C>         <C>
 Bondo Air, L.P. .......     Class B      412,499                         412,499
 Air Saipan, Inc. ......     Class B       10,086                          10,086
 1992 Air, Inc. ........     Class B      369,108                         305,456
 Air II General, Inc. ..     Class B        2,403                           2,403
</TABLE>

- -------
 (1) Each share of Class A common stock is entitled to ten votes, and each
     share of Class B common stock is entitled to one vote. General Voting
     Power includes the combined total of the votes attributable to Class A
     common stock and Class B common stock.
 (2) Amount includes 1,078,944 shares of Class A common stock issuable upon
     exchange of a like number of shares of Class B common stock held by Air
     Canada.
 (3) Does not include the exchange of 1,078,944 shares of Class B common stock
     for Class A common stock as described in Note 2 above, which would be
     subject to Foreign Ownership Restrictions. If Air Canada were permitted
     to exchange the 1,078,944 shares of Class B common stock for an equal
     number of shares of Class A common stock, its General Voting Power would
     be 31.5%.
 (4) Amount assumes conversion of 1,661,056 shares of Class A common stock
     into Class B common stock and that 1,078,944 shares of Class B common
     stock would no longer be exchangeable for a like number of shares of
     Class A common stock.
 (5) Amount includes 1,078,944 shares of Class B common stock held by Air
     Canada which are exchangeable, under certain circumstances, for a like
     number of shares of Class A common stock. Such shares are also included
     in the number of shares of Class A common stock reported herein pursuant
     to SEC Rule 13d-3 under the Exchange Act.
 (6) Does not include 200,000 shares of Class B common stock subject to the
     Underwriters' overallotment option.
 (7) Amount includes 200,000 shares of Class B common stock subject to the
     Underwriters' overallotment option.
 (8) Based on reports filed with the Commission pursuant to the Exchange Act,
     the general partners of Air Partners are 1992 Air GP, managing general
     partner, and Air II General, Inc. The general partners of 1992 Air GP are
     1992 Air, Inc., majority general partner, and Air Saipan, Inc. David
     Bonderman is the controlling shareholder of Air II General, Inc. and 1992
     Air, Inc. and accordingly may be deemed the beneficial owner of shares
     held by Air Partners. In addition, Mr. Bonderman holds, directly and
     indirectly, limited partnership interests in Air Partners. Mr. Bonderman
     also holds director stock options to purchase 3,000 shares of Class B
     common stock and may be deemed to own 379,194 shares of Class B common
     stock owned by 1992 Air GP and 2,403 shares of Class B common stock owned
     by Air II General, Inc. that are not included in the amounts shown.
     Bonderman Family Limited Partnership, of which David Bonderman is the
     general partner, holds 8,200 shares of Class A common stock and 441,225
     shares of Class B common stock that are not included in the amounts
     shown. In addition, Bonderman Family Limited Partnership holds limited
     partnership interests in Air Partners. On the basis of certain provisions
     of the limited partnership agreement of Air Partners, Bonderman Family
     Limited Partnership may be deemed to beneficially own the shares of Class
     A common stock and any Class B common stock beneficially owned by Air
     Partners that are attributable to such limited partnership interests.
     However, Bonderman Family Limited Partnership, pursuant to Rule 13d-4
     under the Exchange Act, disclaims beneficial ownership of all such
     shares. The estate of Larry L. Hillblom, solely in its capacity as the
     sole shareholder of Air Saipan, Inc., may be deemed the beneficial owner
     of shares of Class A common stock and any Class B common stock held by
     Air Partners. In addition, the estate of Mr. Hillblom also holds limited
     partnership interests in Air Partners. On the basis of certain provisions
     of the limited partnership agreement of Air Partners, the estate of Mr.
     Hillblom may be deemed to beneficially own the shares of Class A common
     stock and any Class B common stock beneficially owned by Air Partners
     that are attributable to such limited partnership interests. Bondo Air
     Limited Partnership ("Bondo Air"), solely in its capacity as a limited
     partner of Air Partners, may be deemed to beneficially own the shares of
     Class A
 
                                      27

<PAGE>
 
     common stock and any Class B common stock held by Air Partners that are
     attributable to such limited partnership interest. However, Bondo Air,
     pursuant to Rule 13d-4 under the Exchange Act, disclaims beneficial
     ownership of all such shares. Mr. Alfredo Brener, through a limited
     partnership whose corporate general partner he controls, owns warrants to
     purchase a 98.5% limited partnership interest in Bondo Air, and on the
     basis of certain provisions of the limited partnership agreement of Bondo
     Air, Mr. Brener may be deemed to beneficially own such limited partnership
     interests and, in turn, the shares attributable to Bondo Air's limited
     partnership interest in Air Partners. However, Mr. Brener, pursuant to
     Rule 13d-4 under the Exchange Act, disclaims beneficial ownership of all
     such shares. Donald Sturm, a director of the Company, holds a limited
     partnership interest in Air Partners. On the basis of certain provisions
     of the limited partnership agreement of Air Partners, Mr. Sturm may be
     deemed to beneficially own the shares of Class A common stock and any
     Class B common stock beneficially owned by Air Partners that are
     attributable to such limited partnership interest. However, Mr. Sturm,
     pursuant to Rule 13d-4 under the Exchange Act, disclaims beneficial
     ownership of all such shares.
 (9) Includes 1,519,734 shares issuable upon exercise of warrants by Air
     Partners to purchase Class A common stock.
(10) Represents shares subject to warrants held by Air Partners to purchase
     Class B common stock.
(11) Based on reports filed with the Commission, the shares reported represent
     the proportionate interest in shares beneficially owned by Air Partners,
     of which American General Corporation ("American General") is a limited
     partner, including shares issuable upon exercise of warrants held by Air
     Partners to purchase 276,315 shares of Class A common stock. On the basis
     of certain provisions of the limited partnership agreement of Air
     Partners, American General may be deemed to beneficially own the shares of
     Class A common stock and any Class B common stock beneficially owned by
     Air Partners that are attributable to such limited partnership interest.
     However, American General, pursuant to Rule 13d-4 under the Exchange Act,
     disclaims beneficial ownership of all such shares. American General may be
     deemed to have voting and shared dispositive power with respect to all
     such shares.
(12) The reported shares include 283 shares held by an indirect wholly owned
     subsidiary of American General and 615,024 shares issuable upon exercise
     of warrants held by Air Partners to purchase Class B common stock.
     American General may be deemed to share voting and dispositive power with
     respect to such 615,307 shares.
(13) Based on information furnished to the Company, the shares reported include
     151,514 shares of Class B common stock issuable upon conversion of the
     Company's 6 3/4% Convertible Subordinated Notes due April 15, 2006. FMR,
     together with its wholly owned subsidiaries, Fidelity Management &
     Research Company and Fidelity Management Trust Company, has sole
     dispositive power with respect to 3,159,337 of the shares beneficially
     owned by it and sole voting power with respect to 2,436,423 of such
     shares. FMR has no shared voting or dispositive power. Members of the
     Edward D. Johnson 3d family own approximately 49% of the outstanding
     voting stock of FMR Corp.
(14) Includes 3,000 shares subject to vested director stock options, 441,225
     shares beneficially owned by Bonderman Family Limited Partnership, 379,194
     shares owned by 1992 Air GP and 2,403 shares owned by Air II General, Inc.
     (see note 8). Also includes 3,382,632 shares subject to warrants owned by
     Air Partners, which Mr. Bonderman may be deemed to own beneficially (see
     note 8). Does not include 8,200 shares of Class A common stock
     beneficially owned by Bonderman Family Limited Partnership. Also does not
     include 2,740,000 shares of Class A common stock beneficially owned by Air
     Partners or 1,519,734 such shares subject to warrants (collectively, 54.5%
     of the class) owned by Air Partners, which Mr. Bonderman may be deemed to
     own beneficially (see note 8).

STOCKHOLDERS' AGREEMENT
 
  Pursuant to the existing Stockholders' Agreement, Air Partners and Air Canada
have each agreed that they will vote their shares of common stock to elect six
directors designated by Air Canada, six directors designated by Air Partners
and six directors not affiliated with Air Canada or Air Partners and who are
satisfactory to Air Partners, and to give effect to certain other agreements
regarding the composition of the board and its committees. They have further
agreed through April 27, 1996 to vote for the election of three persons
designated by the committee representing Prepetition Creditors to serve among
the six independent directors. Each such
 
                                       28

<PAGE>
 
party has also agreed to limit its holdings to a specified percentage of total
voting power and to restrict its transfers of certain Class A common stock,
certain shares of Class B common stock owned by Air Canada, and as applicable,
Class C common stock and Class D common stock, through April 27, 1997, unless
the other party consents to the proposed transfer. Air Partners has further
granted Air Canada a right of first refusal to acquire certain of its shares of
Class A common stock or its Class D common stock in the event it receives,
after April 27, 1997, a good faith offer from a third party to purchase all or
any portion of such shares, and in the event it proposes to sell any such
shares in a Rule 144 transaction after such date. Air Partners has also given
Air Canada an option, exercisable after April 27, 1997 (and subject to
applicable Foreign Ownership Restrictions, as defined in the Company's
Certificate of Incorporation), to purchase certain of these shares at their
market price plus a specified control premium. In addition, Air Partners has
agreed to restrict its ability to sell certain Class B common stock to any air
carrier in a private sale at any time prior to April 27, 1997. Unless extended
by the parties, or terminated earlier due to the occurrence of certain
terminating events, the Stockholders' Agreement will terminate on April 27,
2002.
 
  On April 19, 1996, the Company's Board of Directors approved an amendment to
the Stockholders' Agreement, which will become effective upon the closing of
this Offering. The amendment to the Stockholders' Agreement reflects Air
Canada's proposed disposition of Continental stock by, among other things: (a)
deleting the purchase options, rights of first refusal and other transfer
restrictions that currently exist between Air Partners and Air Canada; (b)
deleting the limitation on minimum and maximum aggregate voting power that may
be held by Air Partners and Air Canada; and (c) eliminating the voting
arrangement between Air Partners and Air Canada relating to the election of
directors.
 
  The amendment includes certain agreements among the Company, Air Partners and
Air Canada relating to the exercise of registration rights under the
Registration Rights Agreement. See "--Certain Rights of Air Partners and Air
Canada." The amendment also provides that Air Canada will: (a) convert its
shares of Class A common stock to Class B common stock; (b) grant an
irrevocable proxy to Air Partners to enable Air Partners to vote Air Canada's
shares of Continental common stock with respect to the election of directors,
approval of certain amendments to the Certificate of Incorporation, and
approval of certain employee benefits and other matters at the Annual Meeting;
(c) irrevocably waive its right to convert shares of Class B common stock into
Class A common stock; and (d) to cause each of its designees to the Board of
Directors to resign at any time following the closing of the Offering upon the
request of Continental.
 
  In addition, each of Air Canada and Air Partners has agreed to certain
restrictions on its ability to enter into transactions before December 16, 1996
that would, pursuant to Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code, have an
adverse effect on the Company's ability to fully utilize its NOLs, if effected
prior to that date.
 
WARRANTS
 
  In connection with the Reorganization, Air Partners and Air Canada acquired
warrants to purchase shares of Class A common stock and Class B common stock at
exercise prices of $15 and $30 per share. The warrants held by Air Canada were
repurchased and canceled by the Company on September 29, 1995. The warrants
held by Air Partners expire if not exercised on or before April 27, 1998.
Subject to certain conditions, the Company also expects to enter into an
agreement with Air Partners for the sale by Air Partners to the Company of up
to $50 million in intrinsic value (then-current Class B common stock price
minus exercise price) of Air Partners' Class B warrants. Upon execution of this
agreement, the Company will reclassify $50 million from common equity to a
classification similar to redeemable preferred stock.
 
PREEMPTIVE RIGHTS OF AIR PARTNERS AND AIR CANADA
 
  Air Partners and Air Canada each has the right to purchase additional shares
of Class B common stock to preserve its current proportional ownership of such
stock. If the amendment to the Certificate of Incorporation is approved by
stockholders at the Annual Meeting Air Canada will no longer have this right.
See "Description of Capital Stock--Corporate Governance and Control--Preemptive
Rights of AP/AC Investors."
 
                                       29

<PAGE>
 
CERTAIN CONVERSION RIGHTS
 
  Air Canada has the right at any time to convert its shares of Class A common
stock into an equal number of shares of Class B common stock and, subject to
applicable Foreign Ownership Restrictions, to exchange certain shares of Class
B common stock for an equal number of shares of Class A common stock. See
"Description of Capital Stock--Class B Common Stock and Class A Common Stock."
In specified limited circumstances, Air Partners has the right to convert its
shares of Class A common stock into Class D common stock, $.01 par value (the
"Class D common stock"), and Air Canada has the right to convert its shares of
Class A common stock to Class C common stock, $.01 par value (the "Class C
common stock"). See "Description of Capital Stock--Special Classes of Common
Stock" regarding the terms of the Class C common stock and Class D common stock
and the conversion of such stock back into Class A common stock.
 
  As discussed above in "--Stockholders' Agreement," upon the closing of the
Offering, Air Canada's agreement to convert its shares of Class A common stock
into shares of Class B common stock and its waiver of its right to exchange
certain shares of Class B common stock for Class A common stock will become
effective.
 
CERTAIN RIGHTS OF AIR PARTNERS AND AIR CANADA
 
  Pursuant to a Registration Rights Agreement, the Company has granted
extensive demand and incidental registration rights to Air Partners and Air
Canada to have their common stock registered under the Securities Act in
connection with proposed sales of such stock. On April 19, 1996, the Company's
Board of Directors approved amendments to the Registration Rights Agreement.
See "Recent Developments." Air Canada has a preferential right to bid for take
off and landing slots at LaGuardia, Washington National and Chicago O'Hare
airports and leasehold interests at Chicago O'Hare, LAX and Seattle-Tacoma
airports in the event Continental were to determine to sell such assets.
 
                                       30

<PAGE>
 
                         DESCRIPTION OF CAPITAL STOCK
 
  The current authorized capital stock of the Company consists of 50,000,000
shares of Class A common stock, 100,000,000 shares of Class B common stock
50,000,000 shares of Class C common stock, 50,000,000 shares of Class D common
stock (such classes of common stock referred to collectively as the "common
stock"), and 10,000,000 shares of preferred stock, $.01 par value (the
"Preferred Stock"). Amendments to the Certificate of Incorporation have been
proposed by the Board of Directors for a vote at the Annual Meeting that would
increase the amount of authorized Class B common stock to 200,000,000 shares
and eliminate the Class C common stock as an authorized series of shares. See
"Recent Developments." As of March 31, 1996, there were 6,301,056 outstanding
shares of Class A common stock, 21,489,074 outstanding shares of Class B
common stock and 409,662 shares of Series A 12% Cumulative Preferred Stock.
 
  Pursuant to the Reorganization, on April 27, 1993 the Company issued
1,900,000 shares of Class A common stock and 5,042,368 shares of Class B
common stock to a distribution agent for the benefit of the Company's
Prepetition Creditors. As of March 31, 1996, there remained 291,459 shares of
Class A common stock, 762,291 shares of Class B common stock, and
approximately $1 million of cash available for distribution. Pending
resolution of certain disputed claims, a distribution agent will continue to
hold undistributed Class A common stock and Class B common stock and will vote
such shares of each class pro rata in accordance with the vote of all other
shares of such class on any matter submitted to a vote of stockholders. Also
pursuant to the Reorganization, the Company issued 493,621 shares of Class B
common stock to its retirement plan.
 
  The following summary description of capital stock accurately describes the
material matters with respect thereto, but is not intended to be complete and
is qualified by reference to the provisions of the Company's Certificate of
Incorporation and Bylaws and the agreements referred to in this summary
description. As used in this section, except as otherwise stated or required
by context, each reference to Air Canada or Air Partners includes any
successor by merger, consolidation or similar transaction and any wholly owned
subsidiary of such entity or such successor.
 
COMMON STOCK--ALL CLASSES
 
  Holders of common stock of all classes participate ratably as to any
dividends or distributions on the common stock, except that dividends payable
in shares of common stock, or securities to acquire common stock, are paid in
common stock, or securities to acquire common stock, of the same class as that
upon which the dividend or distribution is being paid. Upon any liquidation,
dissolution or winding up of the Company, holders of common stock of all
outstanding classes are entitled to share ratably the assets of the Company
available for distribution to the stockholders, subject to the prior rights of
holders of any outstanding Preferred Stock. Holders of common stock have no
preemptive, subscription, conversion or redemption rights (other than
preemptive, subscription and conversion rights of Air Partners and Air Canada
described under "--Corporate Governance and Control"), and are not subject to
further calls or assessments. Holders of common stock have no right to
cumulate their votes in the election of directors. All series of common stock
vote together as a single class, subject to the right to a separate class vote
in certain instances required by law and to the rights of holders of Class C
common stock and Class D common stock to vote separately as a class to elect
directors as described under "--Special Classes of Common Stock."
 
CLASS B COMMON STOCK AND CLASS A COMMON STOCK
 
  The holders of Class B common stock are entitled to one vote per share, and
the holders of Class A common stock are entitled to ten votes per share, on
all matters submitted to a vote of stockholders, except that voting rights of
non-U.S. citizens are limited as set forth below under "--Limitation on Voting
by Foreign Owners" and no holder of Class C common stock or Class D common
stock can vote any of its Class B common stock for the election of directors
(see "--Special Classes of Common Stock").
 
  Air Canada and Air Partners (together, the "AP/AC Investors") owned as of
March 31, 1996 in the aggregate approximately 28% of the outstanding Class A
common stock and Class B common stock, representing
 
                                      31

<PAGE>
 
approximately 56% of total voting power (excluding the exercise of warrants
held by Air Partners and the exchange of Class B common stock for Class A
common stock by Air Canada) and Air Partners has warrants to acquire an
additional 3,382,632 shares of Class B common stock and 1,519,734 of Class A
common stock (together representing approximately 21% of total voting power,
assuming exercise of such warrants). See "Principal and Selling Stockholders"
for a description of the number of securities beneficially owned by each of
Air Partners and Air Canada as of March 31, 1996 and certain other matters
relating to their ownership and "--Corporate Governance and Control" below for
a discussion of arrangements regarding the composition of the Board of
Directors of the Company.
 
  Air Canada may at any time convert shares of Class A common stock into an
equal number of shares of Class B common stock and, so long as such exchange
would comply with the Foreign Ownership Restrictions (as defined below under
the caption "--Limitation on Voting by Foreign Owners") may exchange up to
1,078,944 of its shares of Class B common stock for an equal number of shares
of Class A common stock. Except for these special conversion and exchange
rights of Air Canada, Class B common stock is not convertible into or
exchangeable for Class A common stock and Class A common stock is not
convertible into or exchangeable for Class B common stock.
 
  Upon the closing of the Offering, pursuant to the amendment to the
Stockholders' Agreement, Air Canada will convert its Class A common stock into
Class B common stock and will irrevocably waive its right to exchange certain
shares of Class B common stock for Class A common stock.
 
  In addition, under the Proposed Amendments, the Certificate of Incorporation
would be amended to permit all stockholders to convert shares of Class A
common stock into Class B common stock, which will effectively increase the
relative voting power of those Class A stockholders who do not convert. The
limitation in the current charter was designed to ensure compliance with
applicable Foreign Ownership Restrictions by giving Air Canada a method for
reducing its voting power, if necessary, while preventing conversions by other
stockholders that would have the effect of increasing Air Canada's voting
control without any action by Air Canada itself. In light of Air Canada's
reduced stake in the Company, the Company has determined that this restriction
is no longer necessary. In addition, in recent periods, the market price of
Class A common stock has generally been below the price of Class B common
stock, which the Company believes is attributable in part to the reduced
liquidity present in the trading market for Class A common stock. A number of
holders of Class A common stock have requested that the charter be amended to
give all stockholders the right to convert Class A common stock into Class B
common stock. The effective date of this amendment is proposed to be January
1, 1997.
 
  Limitation on Voting by Foreign Owners. The Company's Certificate of
Incorporation defines "Foreign Ownership Restrictions" as "applicable
statutory, regulatory and interpretive restrictions regarding foreign
ownership or control of U.S. air carriers (as amended or modified from time to
time)." Such restrictions currently require that no more than 25% of the
voting stock of the Company be owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by
persons who are not U.S. Citizens ("Foreigners") for purposes of the Foreign
Ownership Restrictions, and that the Company's president and at least two-
thirds of its other managing officers and directors be U.S. Citizens. For
purposes of the Certificate of Incorporation, "U.S. Citizen" means (i) an
individual who is a citizen of the United States; (ii) a partnership each of
whose partners is an individual who is a citizen of the United States; or
(iii) a corporation or association organized under the laws of the United
States or a State, the District of Columbia, or a territory or possession of
the United States, of which the president and at least two-thirds of the board
of directors and other managing officers are citizens of the United States,
and in which at least 75 percent of the voting interest is owned or controlled
by persons that are citizens of the United States. The Certificate of
Incorporation provides that no shares of capital stock may be voted by or at
the direction of Foreigners, unless such shares are registered on a separate
stock record (the "Foreign Stock Record") maintained by the Company for the
registration of ownership of voting stock by Foreigners. The Company's Bylaws
further provide that no shares will be registered on the Foreign Stock Record
if the amount so registered would exceed the Foreign Ownership Restrictions or
adversely affect the Company's operating certificates or authorities.
Registration on the Foreign Stock Record is made in chronological order based
on the date the Company receives a written request for registration, except
that certain shares held by Air Canada, and, after such shares, certain shares
 
                                      32

<PAGE>
 
acquired by Air Partners in connection with its original investment in the
Company that are subsequently transferred to any Foreigner are entitled to be
registered prior to, and to the exclusion of, other shares. Shares currently
owned by Air Canada and registered on the Foreign Stock Record constitute a
substantial portion of the shares that may be voted by Foreigners under the
Foreign Ownership Restrictions. Accordingly, at this time only a very limited
number of shares of Class B common stock or Class A common stock of the
Company may be registered on the Foreign Stock Record and voted by any
Foreigner other than Air Canada.
 
  Under the Proposed Amendments, the Bylaws would be amended to delete Air
Canada's right to have its shares included in the Foreign Stock Record on a
preferential basis. Furthermore, after Air Canada converts its Class A common
stock to Class B common stock upon the closing of the Offering, a larger
number of shares of Class B common stock and/or Class A common stock could be
registered on the Foreign Stock Record and voted by Foreigners other than Air
Canada.
 
CORPORATE GOVERNANCE AND CONTROL
 
  Board of Directors. The Certificate of Incorporation provides that the
Company's Board of Directors consists of eighteen directors to be elected by
holders of common stock, exclusive of any directors who may be elected by
holders of Preferred Stock. Pursuant to the Stockholders' Agreement, the AP/AC
Investors have agreed to vote their shares to elect six directors designated
by Air Partners, six directors designated by Air Canada, and six additional
directors satisfactory to Air Partners. Pursuant to the Certificate of
Incorporation, (i) the six additional directors must be independent of Air
Partners and Air Canada and, until the first annual meeting of stockholders
after April 27, 1996, must include three directors designated by the committee
representing Prepetition Creditors (as defined in the Stockholders'
Agreement), and (ii) at each annual meeting, the Board must nominate the chief
executive officer for election as a director.
 
  Under the Proposed Amendments, the Certificate of Incorporation would be
amended to provide that the number of directors may be determined from time to
time by the Board in accordance with the Bylaws. The Bylaws would also be
amended to provide that the number of directors will be determined from time
to time by the Board (and will initially consist of 12 directors). In
addition, provisions relating to the Board designees of Air Canada and the
committee representing Prepetition Creditors would be deleted.
 
  Supermajority Vote Requirements. The Certificate of Incorporation requires
the affirmative vote of shares having at least two-thirds of the total voting
power of common stock, voting together as a single class, to amend certain
provisions of the Certificate of Incorporation regarding the number of
authorized shares and the relative rights of classes of capital stock,
election and voting of directors, and rights of the AP/AC Investors to
purchase additional shares of Class B common stock.
 
  The Certificate of Incorporation also provides that, unless prohibited by
law, the affirmative vote of at least 70% (75% if more than one director is
elected by holders of Preferred Stock or in certain other instances) of
directors (a "Supermajority Vote") is required to approve certain
extraordinary transactions, including (i) authorization, issuance or
disposition of Class A common stock or rights to acquire Class A common stock,
(ii) liquidation or dissolution of the Company, (iii) any fundamental change
in the lines of business of the Company, (iv) appointment of a receiver for
the Company or commencement of bankruptcy proceedings or (v) any amendment to
the Plan of Reorganization. In addition, a Supermajority Vote of directors
will be required to approve the following transactions, if such Supermajority
Vote requirements are first presented to and approved by DOT as complying with
the Foreign Ownership Restrictions: (a) approval of capital expenditures in
any fiscal year that exceed by more than $50,000,000 the amount of capital
expenditures set forth in the Company's capital budget; (b) approval to incur
indebtedness for money borrowed in any fiscal year that exceeds by more than
$50,000,000 the maximum principal amount of indebtedness projected in the
Company's financial plan for such year; (c) certain acquisitions or
dispositions of a significant amount of assets other than in the ordinary
course of business; and (d) the taking of certain actions with respect to
material contracts (including, among others, contracts providing for the
merger or consolidation of the Corporation, contracts with periods in
 
                                      33

<PAGE>
 
excess of four years or contemplating expenditures in excess of $50 million in
any year and $150 million in the aggregate), and any compensatory plan in
which any director or executive officer of the Company participates.
 
  The Certificate of Incorporation further requires approval by two-thirds of
the directors in office (assuming no vacancies) to approve contracts (or any
amendments thereof) between the Company and any air carrier (other than Air
Canada) with respect to a code-sharing or marketing alliance or to amend
certain provisions of the Company's Bylaws governing (i) the election and
voting of directors and committees of the Board of Directors or (ii) the
ownership and voting of stock by Foreigners. Such Bylaw amendments also must
be approved by at least the holders of a majority of the voting power of the
outstanding shares of common stock, unless they have been approved by a
majority of the directors designated or elected by the AP/AC Investors. The
Certificate of Incorporation also requires approval by the holders of at least
two-thirds of the voting power of the outstanding shares of common stock in
order to amend the sections of the Certificate of Incorporation relating to
(i) the Corporation's capital stock, (ii) composition and voting of the Board
of Directors, and (iii) preemptive rights of Air Partners and Air Canada.
 
  Contracts and transactions between the Company and its directors, officers
or other related parties also must be approved by a majority (or, in cases
otherwise subject to a Supermajority Vote, by 75%) of disinterested directors,
unless such contracts or transactions are approved by the stockholders or are
otherwise fair to the Company.
 
  Under the Proposed Amendments, the Certificate of Incorporation would be
amended to delete the foregoing provisions.
 
  Fairness Opinion; Business Combinations. The Certificate of Incorporation
provides that the Board of Directors will not approve any merger or similar
corporate transaction unless, prior to the approval, the board receives an
opinion of an independent investment banking firm that the consideration to be
received by the holders of common stock is fair from a financial point of view
to such holders. The Certificate of Incorporation provides that the Company is
not governed by Section 203 of the General Corporation Law of Delaware that,
in the absence of such provisions, would have imposed additional requirements
regarding mergers and other business combinations.
 
  Under the Proposed Amendments, the Certificate of Incorporation would be
amended to delete the requirement that the board receive such opinion.
 
  Preemptive Rights of AP/AC Investors. Pursuant to the Certificate of
Incorporation, each AP/AC Investor is given the right to purchase from the
Company additional shares of Class B common stock to the extent necessary to
maintain its pro rata ownership of the outstanding Class B common stock. Such
preemptive rights terminate as to an AP/AC Investor if the total voting power
of the common stock beneficially owned by such AP/AC Investor is less than 20%
of the total voting power of all of the outstanding common stock.
 
  Under the Proposed Amendments, the Certificate of Incorporation would be
amended to delete Air Canada's preemptive rights.
 
  Procedural Matters. The Company's Bylaws require stockholders seeking to
nominate directors or propose other matters for action at a stockholders'
meeting to deliver notice thereof to the Company certain specified periods in
advance of the meeting and to follow certain other specified procedures.
 
  Change in Control. The cumulative effect of the provisions of the
Certificate of Incorporation and Bylaws referred to under this heading
"Description of Capital Stock" and the Stockholders' Agreement is to maintain
certain rights of the AP/AC Investors to elect directors and otherwise to
preserve their relative ownership and voting positions. These provisions may
have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing a change in control of
the Company.
 
 
                                      34

<PAGE>
 
  The cumulative effect of the Agreements and the Proposed Amendments will be
to maintain certain rights of Air Partners to elect directors and otherwise to
preserve its relative ownership and voting positions. Air Canada will not
continue to have similar rights.
 
SPECIAL CLASSES OF COMMON STOCK
 
  The Certificate of Incorporation authorizes Class C common stock and Class D
common stock as a mechanism to provide, under certain circumstances, a
specified level of Board representation for each of the AP/AC Investors. No
shares of Class C common stock or Class D common stock are currently
outstanding, and they may only be issued in limited circumstances upon
conversion of Class A common stock held by AP/AC Investors. In the event the
AP/AC Investors hold shares of Class A common stock and Class B common stock
representing 50% or less of the combined voting power of all classes of common
stock, or if the Stockholders' Agreement is no longer in effect, each of the
AP/AC Investors has the option, which may be exercised only once, to convert
all (but not less than all) shares of Class A common stock held by it into an
equal number of shares of Class C common stock, in the case of Air Canada, or
Class D common stock, in the case of Air Partners. Such right of conversion is
further conditioned upon the AP/AC Investor holding common stock having at
least 20% of the total voting power of all classes of common stock.
 
  After such conversion, holders of Class C common stock and Class D common
stock are each entitled to elect six directors, voting as a separate class.
When shares of Class C common stock are outstanding, Air Canada has no right
to vote any of its shares of Class B common stock for the election of
directors; and if Air Canada becomes the beneficial owner of additional shares
of Class A common stock during such time, such shares will automatically be
converted into an equal number of shares of Class C common stock. Likewise,
when shares of Class D common stock are outstanding, Air Partners may not vote
any of its shares of Class B common stock for the election of directors; and
if Air Partners becomes the beneficial owner of any additional shares of
Class A common stock during such time, such shares will automatically be
converted into Class D common stock. Each share of Class C common stock and
Class D common stock has ten votes and, as to matters other than the election
of directors, votes together with all other classes of common stock as a
single class. In the event the voting power of all common stock held by an
AP/AC Investor represents less than 20% of the voting power of all classes of
common stock, all Class C common stock or Class D common stock held by such
AP/AC Investor will automatically convert into an equal number of shares of
Class A common stock. Shares of Class C common stock and Class D common stock
also convert automatically into an equal number of shares of Class A common
stock upon the transfer of record or beneficial ownership of such Class C
common stock or Class D common stock to any person other than certain related
parties of the original holder. Each AP/AC Investor may also at any time
voluntarily convert all (but not less than all) shares of Class C common stock
or Class D common stock held by it into an equal number of shares of Class A
common stock. All shares of Class C common stock or Class D common stock
surrendered by an AP/AC Investor for conversion into Class A common stock will
be canceled and may not be reissued.
 
  Under the Proposed Amendments, the Certificate of Incorporation would be
amended to delete the Class C common stock and provide that the holders Class
D common stock are entitled to elect one-third of the number of directors
determined by the Board of Directors pursuant to the Bylaws (rounded to the
nearest whole number).
 
REDEEMABLE PREFERRED STOCK
 
  The Company has authorized and issued a class of preferred stock, designated
as Series A 12% Cumulative Preferred Stock.
 
  Holders of the Series A 12% Preferred are entitled to receive, when, as and
if declared by the Board of Directors, cumulative dividends payable quarterly
in additional shares of such preferred stock for dividends accumulating
through December 31, 1996. Thereafter dividends are payable in cash at an
annual rate of $12 per share; provided, however, that to the extent net income
(as defined in the certificate of designation for the preferred stock) for any
calendar quarter is less than the amount of dividends due on all outstanding
shares of
 
                                      35

<PAGE>
 
the Series A 12% Preferred for such quarter, the Board of Directors may
declare dividends payable in additional shares of Series A 12% Preferred in
lieu of cash. At any time, the Company may redeem, in whole or in part, on a
pro rata basis among the stockholders, any outstanding shares of the Series A
12% Preferred. All outstanding shares of the Series A 12% Preferred are
mandatorily redeemable on April 27, 2003 out of legally available funds. The
redemption price is $100 per share plus accrued and unpaid dividends. Shares
of the Series A 12% Preferred are not convertible into shares of common stock
and such shares do not have voting rights, except under limited circumstances
described in the following two paragraphs. Shares of the Series A 12%
Preferred have a liquidation preference of $100 per share plus accrued and
unpaid dividends, senior to any distribution on shares of common stock.
 
  In the event the Company violates certain covenants set forth in the
certificate of designation relating to the Series A 12% Preferred, fails to
pay the full amount of dividends on the preferred stock for nine consecutive
quarterly payment dates or shall not have redeemed the preferred stock within
five days of the date of any redemption of which the Company has given, or is
required to give, notice (a "Default"), the holders of the Series A 12%
Preferred as to which a Default exists, voting (subject to the Foreign
Ownership Restrictions) together as one class, are entitled to elect one
member of the Board of Directors. In the event the Company pays in full all
dividends accrued on the preferred stock for three consecutive payment dates
following such Default (and no dividend arrearages exist as to such stock), or
otherwise cures any other default that gives rise to such voting rights, the
holders of the Series A 12% Preferred will cease to have the right to elect a
director.
 
  The consent or approval of the holders of a majority of the then-outstanding
shares of Series A 12% Preferred is required for the creation of certain
classes of senior or parity stock, certain mergers or sales of substantially
all of the Company's assets, the voluntary liquidation or dissolution of the
Company and amendments to the terms of the preferred stock that would
adversely affect the Series A 12% Preferred.
 
  The Board of Directors of the Company has the authority, without any vote by
the stockholders, to issue additional shares of preferred stock, up to the
number of shares authorized in the Certificate of Incorporation, as it may be
amended from time to time, in one or more series, and to fix the number of
shares constituting any such series, the designations, preferences and
relative rights and qualifications of such series, including the voting
rights, dividend rights, dividend rate, terms of redemption (including sinking
fund provisions), redemption price or prices, conversion rights and
liquidation preferences of the shares constituting any series.
 
LIMITATION OF DIRECTOR LIABILITY AND INDEMNIFICATION
 
  The Company's Certificate of Incorporation provides, to the fullest extent
permitted by Delaware law as it may from time to time be amended, that no
director shall be liable to the Company or any stockholder for monetary
damages for breach of fiduciary duty as a director. Delaware law currently
provides that such waiver may not apply to liability (i) for any breach of the
director's duty of loyalty to the Company or its stockholders, (ii) for acts
or omissions not in good faith or that involve intentional misconduct or a
knowing violation of law, (iii) under Section 174 of the Delaware General
Corporation Law (governing distributions to stockholders), or (iv) for any
transaction from which the director derived any improper personal benefit. The
Certificate of Incorporation further provides that the Company will indemnify
each of its directors and officers to the full extent permitted by Delaware
law and may indemnify certain other persons as authorized by law. The
foregoing provisions do not eliminate the monetary liability of directors
under the federal securities laws.
 
                        SHARES ELIGIBLE FOR FUTURE SALE
 
  As of March 31, 1996, Continental had a total of 21,489,074 shares of Class
B common stock and 6,301,056 shares of Class A common stock outstanding. As of
that date, 762,291 shares of Class B common stock and 291,459 shares of Class
A common stock were held in trust by a distribution agent pending resolution
of certain disputed claims and subsequent distribution to, or sale for the
benefit of Prepetition Creditors. Upon distribution to Prepetition Creditors,
these shares will be freely tradable. An independent investment manager has
discretion over the continued holding or sale of the 78,621 shares of Class B
common stock held in trust for the benefit of
 
                                      36

<PAGE>
 
the Company's retirement plan. Shares of Class A common stock and Class B
common stock held by Air Partners and Air Canada are restricted securities
within the meaning of Rule 144 under the Securities Act and may not be sold in
the absence of registration under the Securities Act unless an exemption from
registration is available, including the exemption provided by Rule 144. The
Agreements substantially reduce the restrictions applicable to sale of Class A
common stock and Class B common stock by Air Partners and Air Canada after
December 16, 1996, although substantial dispositions prior to that date (other
than pursuant to this Offering) are prohibited. Air Canada has indicated its
intention to dispose of its remaining equity interest in the Company by early
1997, subject to market conditions. See "Principal and Selling Stockholders--
Stockholders' Agreement," and "Recent Developments." The Company has granted
Air Partners and Air Canada extensive registration rights. See "Principal and
Selling Stockholders--Certain Rights of Air Partners and Air Canada."
 
  The Company has agreed that, except with the prior written consent of
Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated ("Merrill Lynch"), it will
not, directly or indirectly, for a period of 90 days after the date of the
U.S. Purchase Agreement, offer, sell, contract to sell or otherwise dispose of
any shares of common stock of the Company or any interests therein or any
securities convertible into or exchangeable for shares of common stock or
other equity interests of the Company, except that the Company may issue
shares of common stock or other equity interests (i) pursuant to the exercise
or conversion of options, warrants or other securities outstanding on the date
of the U.S. Purchase Agreement, (ii) pursuant to the grant of stock options or
other stock-based awards (and the exercise thereof) to directors, officers and
employees of the Company or its subsidiaries, and (iii) as may be required
pursuant to the Certificate of Incorporation.
 
  Air Canada and Air Partners have agreed that, except with the prior written
consent of Merrill Lynch, they will not, directly or indirectly, for a period
of 90 days after the date of the U.S. Purchase Agreement, offer, sell,
contract to sell or otherwise dispose of any shares of common stock of the
Company (except, in the case of Air Canada, for Shares included in the
Offering), any interests therein, or any securities convertible into or
exchangeable for shares of common stock of the Company, except that Air
Partners may (i) convert shares of common stock of one class for shares of
common stock of another class or for other equity interests in the Company and
(ii) transfer common stock or other equity interests in the Company to any of
its partners or affiliates (including the Company) if such transferee agrees
to be bound by the agreement set forth in this paragraph.
 
  Each of the AP Investors has agreed that, except with the prior written
consent of Merrill Lynch, it will not directly or indirectly, for a period of
90 days after the date of the U.S. Purchase Agreement, offer, sell, contract
to sell or otherwise dispose of any shares of common stock of the Company
(except for Shares included in the Offering) or any interests therein or any
securities convertible into or exchangeable for shares of common stock of the
Company, in each case that have been received, or that may hereafter be
acquired, from Air Partners.
 
               CERTAIN U.S. TAX CONSEQUENCES TO NON-U.S. HOLDERS
 
  The following is a general discussion of certain United States federal
income and estate tax consequences of the purchase, ownership and disposition
of Class B common stock by a person who is (as to the United States) a foreign
corporation, a nonresident alien individual, a nonresident alien fiduciary of
an estate or trust the income of which is not subject to United States
taxation regardless of its source, or a foreign partnership (a "Non-U.S.
Holder"). This summary does not address all aspects of United States federal
income and estate taxes that may be relevant to Non-U.S. Holders in light of
their personal circumstances including Non-U.S. Holders that may be subject to
special treatment under United States federal income tax laws (for example,
insurance companies, tax-exempt organizations, financial institutions or
broker-dealers) and is based on current provisions of the Internal Revenue
Code of 1986 as amended (the "Code"), existing and proposed regulations
promulgated thereunder, and administrative and judicial interpretation
thereof, all of which are subject to change. Accordingly, each Non-U.S. Holder
is urged to consult its own tax advisor with respect to the United States tax
consequences of the ownership and disposition of Class B common stock, as well
as any tax consequences that may arise under
 
                                      37

<PAGE>
 
the laws of any state, municipality, foreign country or other taxing
jurisdiction or under the provisions of an applicable tax treaty.
 
DIVIDENDS
 
  Dividends paid to a Non-U.S. Holder of Class B common stock ordinarily will
be subject to withholding of United States federal income tax at a 30 percent
rate, or at a lower rate under an applicable income tax treaty that provides
for a reduced rate of withholding. However, if the dividends are effectively
connected with the conduct by the Non-U.S. Holder of a trade or business
within the United States, then the dividends will be exempt from the
withholding tax described above and instead will be subject to United States
federal income tax on a net income basis, unless an applicable tax treaty
provides otherwise. In such case, if the Non-U.S. Holder is a foreign
corporation, it may also be subject to a 30% United States branch profits tax.
A Non-U.S. Holder that is eligible for a reduced rate of United States
withholding tax pursuant to a tax treaty and does not realize the benefit of
such reduced rate when the dividend is paid may obtain a refund of excess
amounts withheld by filing an appropriate claim for refund with the United
States Internal Revenue Service ("IRS").
 
  The Company must report annually to the IRS the amount of dividends paid to
a Non-U.S. Holder and tax withheld from such dividends. This information also
may be made available to the tax authorities of the country in which the Non-
U.S. Holder resides, pursuant to the terms of a tax treaty between the United
States and such country.
 
GAIN ON DISPOSITION OF CLASS B COMMON STOCK
 
  The gain realized on the sale or exchange of the Class B common stock by a
Non-U.S. Holder will not be subject to United States federal income tax,
including withholding tax, unless (i) such gain is effectively connected with
the conduct by the Non-U.S. Holder of a trade or business in the United
States, or (ii) in the case of gain realized by a Non-U.S. Holder who is an
individual, the Non-U.S. Holder is present in the United States for 183 days
or more in the taxable year of sale and either (A) such gain or income is
attributable to an office or other fixed place of business maintained in the
United States by such Non-U.S. Holder or (B) such Non-U.S. Holder has a tax
home in the United States.
 
FEDERAL ESTATE TAXES
 
  Class B common stock held by an individual Non-U.S. Holder at the time of
death will be included in such Non-U.S. Holder's gross estate for United
States federal estate tax purposes, unless an applicable estate tax treaty
provides otherwise.
 
U.S. INFORMATION REPORTING REQUIREMENTS AND BACKUP WITHHOLDING TAX
 
  U.S. information reporting requirements and backup withholding tax will not
apply to dividends paid on Class B common stock to a Non-U.S. Holder at an
address outside the United States. As a general matter, information reporting
and backup withholding also will not apply to a payment of the proceeds of a
sale of Class B common stock effected outside the United States by a foreign
office of a foreign broker. However, information reporting requirements (but
not backup withholding) will apply to a payment of the proceeds of a sale of
Class B common stock effected outside the United States by a foreign office of
a broker if the broker is a U.S. person, derives 50 percent or more of its
gross income for certain periods from the conduct of a trade or business in
the United States, or is a "controlled foreign corporation" as to the United
States, unless the broker has documentary evidence in its records that the
holder is a Non-U.S. Holder and certain conditions are met, or the holder
otherwise establishes an exemption. Payment by a United States office of a
broker of the proceeds of a sale of Class B common stock will be subject to
backup withholding and information reporting unless the holder certifies its
non-United States status under penalties of perjury or otherwise establishes
an exemption.
 
 
                                      38

<PAGE>
 
  These backup withholding and information reporting rules are under review by
the United States Treasury, and their application to the Class B common stock
could be changed by future regulations, including the proposed regulations
described below.
 
PROPOSED REGULATIONS
 
  On April 15, 1996, the Internal Revenue Service released proposed
regulations (the "Proposed Regulations") that would, among other matters,
change the withholding tax and backup withholding tax rules applicable to
dividends paid with respect to stock of U.S. corporations. These regulations,
if adopted in the form proposed, would require that certain Non-U.S. Holders
of Class B common stock that seek to rely on a tax treaty to obtain a
reduction in the rate of the dividend withholding tax provide certifications
regarding their eligibility for receiving such treaty benefits. In addition,
under the Proposed Regulations, a Non-U.S. Holder that fails to comply with
certain certification requirements may be subject to backup withholding tax at
a rate of 31% in lieu of the dividend withholding tax. It is uncertain
whether, or in what form, the Proposed Regulations will be adopted. If adopted
in the form proposed, the Proposed Regulations would not apply to dividends
paid prior to 1998. Non-U.S. Holders are urged to consult their tax advisers
regarding the possible applicability to them of the Proposed Regulations.
 
                                      39

<PAGE>
 
                                 UNDERWRITING
 
  Subject to the terms and conditions set forth in a purchase agreement (the
"U.S. Purchase Agreement") between the Selling Stockholders, the Company and
each of the underwriters named below (the "U.S. Underwriters"), and
concurrently with the sale of 854,203 Shares to the International Underwriters
(as defined below), the Selling Stockholders have agreed to sell to each of
the U.S. Underwriters named below, and each of the U.S. Underwriters, for whom
Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated, Goldman, Sachs & Co.,
Lehman Brothers Inc. and Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated are acting as
representatives (the "U.S. Representatives"), severally has agreed to purchase
from the Selling Stockholders, the aggregate number of Shares set forth
opposite its name below:
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                                                       NUMBER OF
           U.S. UNDERWRITERS                                            SHARES
           -----------------                                           ---------
      <S>                                                              <C>
      Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith
               Incorporated...........................................
      Goldman, Sachs & Co. ...........................................
      Lehman Brothers Inc. ...........................................
      Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated...............................
                                                                       ---------
           Total...................................................... 3,416,812
                                                                       =========
</TABLE>

 
  The Company and the Selling Stockholders also have entered into a purchase
agreement (the "International Purchase Agreement") with certain underwriters
outside the United States and Canada (the "International Underwriters" and,
together with the U.S. Underwriters, the "Underwriters") for whom Merrill
Lynch International Limited, Goldman Sachs International, Lehman Brothers
International (Europe) and Morgan Stanley & Co. International Limited are
acting as representatives (the "International Representatives"). Subject to
the terms and conditions set forth in the International Purchase Agreement,
and concurrently with the sale of 3,416,812 Shares to the U.S. Underwriters
pursuant to the U.S. Purchase Agreement, the Selling Stockholders have agreed
to sell to the International Underwriters, and the International Underwriters
severally have agreed to purchase, an aggregate of 854,203 Shares. The initial
public offering price per share and the underwriting discount per share are
identical under the U.S. Purchase Agreement and the International Purchase
Agreement.
 
  In the U.S. Purchase Agreement and the International Purchase Agreement, the
several U.S. Underwriters and the several International Underwriters,
respectively, have agreed, subject to the terms and conditions set forth
therein, to purchase all of the Shares being sold pursuant to each such
Agreement if any of the shares being sold pursuant to each such Agreement are
purchased. Under certain circumstances, the commitments of non-defaulting U.S.
Underwriters or International Underwriters (as the case may be) may be
increased. The closings with respect to the sale of the Shares to the U.S.
Underwriters and the International Underwriters are conditioned upon one
another.
 
  The U.S. Underwriters and the International Underwriters have entered into
an intersyndicate agreement (the "Intersyndicate Agreement") which provides
for the coordination of their activities. The Underwriters are permitted to
sell Shares to each other for the purposes of resale at the initial public
offering price, less an amount not greater than the selling concession. Under
the terms of the Intersyndicate Agreement, the U.S. Underwriters and any
dealer to whom they sell Shares will only offer to sell or sell Shares to
persons who are United States or Canadian persons or to persons they believe
intend to resell to persons who are United States or Canadian persons, and the
International Underwriters and any dealer to whom they sell Shares will not
offer to sell or sell Shares to United States or Canadian persons or to
persons they believe intend to resell to United States or Canadian persons,
except, in each case, for transactions pursuant to the Intersyndicate
Agreement.
 
  The U.S. Representatives have advised the Selling Stockholders that the U.S.
Underwriters propose initially to offer the Shares to the public at the
initial public offering price set forth on the cover page of this Prospectus,
 
                                      40

<PAGE>
 
and to certain dealers (who may include U.S. Underwriters) at such price less a
concession not in excess of $    per share. The U.S. Underwriters may allow,
and such dealers may reallow, a discount not in excess of $    per share on
sales to certain other dealers. After the Offering, the public offering price,
concession and discount may be changed.
 
  Air Canada has granted an option to the U.S. Underwriters exercisable during
the 30-day period after the date of this Prospectus, to purchase up to an
aggregate of 200,000 additional shares at the initial public offering price set
forth on the cover page of this Prospectus, less the underwriting discount. The
U.S. Underwriters may exercise the option only to cover over-allotments, if
any, made on the sale of the Shares offered hereby. To the extent that the U.S.
Underwriters exercise the option, each U.S. Underwriter will be obligated,
subject to certain conditions, to purchase the same percentage of such of
additional shares as the number of Shares to be purchased by it shown in the
foregoing table bears to the total number of Shares initially offered by the
U.S. Underwriters hereby.
 
  The Company has agreed that, except with the prior written consent of Merrill
Lynch, it will not, directly or indirectly, for a period of 90 days after the
date of the U.S. Purchase Agreement, offer, sell, contract to sell or otherwise
dispose of any shares of common stock of the Company or any interests therein
or any securities convertible into or exchangeable for shares of common stock
or other equity interests of the Company, except that the Company may issue
shares of common stock or other equity interests (i) pursuant to the exercise
or conversion of options, warrants or other securities outstanding on the date
of the U.S. Purchase Agreement, (ii) pursuant to the grant of stock options or
other stock-based awards (and the exercise thereof) to directors, officers and
employees of the Company or its subsidiaries, and (iii) as may be required
pursuant to the Certificate of Incorporation.
 
  Air Canada and Air Partners have agreed that, except with the prior written
consent of Merrill Lynch, they will not, directly or indirectly, for a period
of 90 days after the date of the U.S. Purchase Agreement, offer, sell, contract
to sell or otherwise dispose of any shares of common stock of the Company
(except, in the case of Air Canada, for Shares included in the Offering), any
interests therein, or any securities convertible into or exchangeable for
shares of common stock of the Company, except that Air Partners may (i) convert
shares of common stock of one class for shares of common stock of another class
or for other equity interests in the Company and (ii) transfer common stock or
other equity interests in the Company to any of its partners or affiliates
(including the Company) if such transferee agrees to be bound by the agreement
set forth in this paragraph.
 
  Each of the AP Investors has agreed that, except with the prior written
consent of Merrill Lynch, it will not directly or indirectly, for a period of
90 days after the date of the U.S. Purchase Agreement, offer, sell, contract to
sell or otherwise dispose of any shares of common stock of the Company (except
for Shares included in the Offering) or any interests therein or any securities
convertible into or exchangeable for shares of common stock of the Company, in
each case that have been received, or that may hereafter be acquired, from Air
Partners.
 
  The Company and the Selling Stockholders have severally agreed to indemnify
the several Underwriters against certain liabilities, including liabilities
under the Securities Act or to contribute to payments the Underwriters may be
required to make in respect thereof.
 
  Certain of the Underwriters or their affiliates have provided from time to
time, and may provide in the future, investment banking services to the Company
and its affiliates, for which such Underwriters or their affiliates have
received or will receive fees and commissions.
 
                                       41

<PAGE>
 
                                 LEGAL MATTERS
 
  The validity of the Class B common Stock offered hereby will be passed upon
for Continental by Jeffery A. Smisek, Esq., General Counsel of the Company.
Certain legal matters will be passed upon for Continental by Cleary, Gottlieb,
Steen & Hamilton, New York, New York, and for the Underwriters by Cahill
Gordon & Reindel, a partnership including a professional corporation, New
York, New York.
 
                                    EXPERTS
 
  The consolidated financial statements (including schedules incorporated by
reference) of Continental Airlines, Inc. at December 31, 1995 and 1994 and for
each of the two years ended December 31, 1995 and for the period April 28,
1993 through December 31, 1993, and the consolidated statements of operations,
redeemable and non-redeemable preferred stock and common stockholders' equity
and cash flows of Continental Airlines Holdings, Inc. for the period January
1, 1993 through April 27, 1993, incorporated by reference in this Prospectus
and Registration Statement have been audited by Ernst & Young LLP, independent
auditors, as set forth in their reports thereon included therein and
incorporated herein by reference, in reliance upon such reports given upon the
authority of such firm as experts in accounting and auditing.
 
                                      42

<PAGE>
 
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
 NO DEALER, SALESPERSON OR OTHER INDIVIDUAL HAS BEEN AUTHORIZED TO GIVE ANY
INFORMATION OR TO MAKE ANY REPRESENTATION OTHER THAN THOSE CONTAINED IN THIS
PROSPECTUS IN CONNECTION WITH THE OFFERING COVERED BY THIS PROSPECTUS. IF
GIVEN OR MADE, SUCH INFORMATION OR REPRESENTATIONS MUST NOT BE RELIED UPON AS
HAVING BEEN AUTHORIZED BY THE COMPANY, THE SELLING STOCKHOLDERS OR THE UNDER-
WRITERS. THIS PROSPECTUS DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AN OFFER TO SELL, OR A SOLICITA-
TION OF AN OFFER TO BUY THE CLASS B COMMON STOCK IN ANY JURISDICTION WHERE, OR
TO ANY PERSON TO WHOM, IT IS UNLAWFUL TO MAKE SUCH OFFER OR SOLICITATION. NEI-
THER THE DELIVERY OF THIS PROSPECTUS NOR ANY SALE MADE HEREUNDER SHALL, UNDER
ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, CREATE AN IMPLICATION THAT THERE HAS NOT BEEN ANY CHANGE IN
THE FACTS SET FORTH IN THIS PROSPECTUS OR IN THE AFFAIRS OF THE COMPANY SINCE
THE DATE HEREOF.
 
                                ---------------
 
                               TABLE OF CONTENTS
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                                                          PAGE
                                                                          ----
<S>                                                                       <C>
Available Information....................................................   2
Incorporation of Certain Documents by Reference..........................   3
Prospectus Summary.......................................................   4
Risk Factors.............................................................  13
Recent Developments......................................................  17
Use of Proceeds..........................................................  19
Market Price of Common Stock and Dividends...............................  19
Selected Financial Data..................................................  20
Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results
 of Operations...........................................................  22
Principal and Selling Stockholders.......................................  26
Description of Capital Stock.............................................  31
Shares Eligible for Future Sale..........................................  36
Certain U.S. Tax Consequences to Non-U.S. Holders........................  37
Underwriting.............................................................  40
Legal Matters............................................................  42
Experts..................................................................  42
</TABLE>

 
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                               4,271,015 SHARES
 
                          CONTINENTAL AIRLINES, INC.
 
                             CLASS B COMMON STOCK
 
                                ---------------
 
                                  PROSPECTUS
 
                                ---------------
 
                              MERRILL LYNCH & CO.
 
                             GOLDMAN, SACHS & CO.
 
                                LEHMAN BROTHERS
 
                             MORGAN STANLEY & CO.
                                 INCORPORATED
 
                                      , 1996
 
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

<PAGE>
 
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN IS SUBJECT TO COMPLETION OR AMENDMENT. A         +
+REGISTRATION STATEMENT RELATING TO THESE SECURITIES HAS BEEN FILED WITH THE   +
+SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION. THESE SECURITIES MAY NOT BE SOLD NOR MAY  +
+OFFERS TO BUY BE ACCEPTED PRIOR TO THE TIME THE REGISTRATION STATEMENT        +
+BECOMES EFFECTIVE. THIS PROSPECTUS SHALL NOT CONSTITUTE AN OFFER TO SELL OR   +
+THE SOLICITATION OF AN OFFER TO BUY NOR SHALL THERE BE ANY SALE OF THESE      +
+SECURITIES IN ANY STATE IN WHICH SUCH OFFER, SOLICITATION OR SALE WOULD BE    +
+UNLAWFUL PRIOR TO REGISTRATION OR QUALIFICATION UNDER THE SECURITIES LAWS OF  +
+ANY SUCH STATE.                                                               +
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
                                                              ALTERNATE PAGE FOR
                                                        INTERNATIONAL PROSPECTUS
                             SUBJECT TO COMPLETION
                   PRELIMINARY PROSPECTUS DATED APRIL  , 1996
 
PROSPECTUS
- ---------- 
                                4,271,015 SHARES

                           CONTINENTAL AIRLINES, INC.

                              CLASS B COMMON STOCK
                                  -----------
 
  Of the 4,271,015 shares (the "Shares") of Class B common stock, par value
$.01 per share (the "Class B common stock"), of Continental Airlines, Inc. (the
"Company" or "Continental") offered hereby, 854,203 Shares are being offered
outside the United States and Canada by the International Underwriters (the
"International Offering"), and 3,416,812 Shares are being concurrently offered
in the United States and Canada by the U.S. Underwriters (the "U.S. Offering"
and, together with International Offering, the "Offering"). The offering price
and underwriting discounts and commissions of the International Offering and
the U.S. Offering are identical. See "Underwriting."
 
  All of the Shares offered hereby are being sold by Air Canada, a Canadian
corporation ("Air Canada") and certain partners of Air Partners, L.P., a Texas
limited partnership ("Air Partners") (collectively, the "Selling
Stockholders"). See "Principal and Selling Stockholders." Continental will not
receive any of the proceeds from the sale of the Shares by the Selling
Stockholders.
 
  The Class B common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, Inc. (the
"NYSE") under the trading symbol "CAI.B." On April 19, 1996, the last reported
sale price of the Class B common stock on the NYSE Composite Tape was $59 3/8
per share. See "Market Price of Common Stock and Dividends."
 
  FOR A DISCUSSION OF CERTAIN FACTORS THAT SHOULD BE CONSIDERED IN EVALUATING
AN INVESTMENT IN THE SHARES, SEE "RISK FACTORS" ON PAGES 13 TO 16.
 
                                  -----------
 
THESE SECURITIES HAVE NOT BEEN APPROVED OR DISAPPROVED BY THE SECURITIES AND
EXCHANGE COMMISSION OR ANY STATE SECURITIES COMMISSION NOR HAS THE SECURITIES
AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION OR ANY STATE SECURITIES COMMISSION PASSED UPON THE
ACCURACY OR ADEQUACY OF THIS PROSPECTUS. ANY REPRESENTATION TO THE CONTRARY IS
A CRIMINAL OFFENSE.
 
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                     PRICE TO   UNDERWRITING PROCEEDS TO SELLING
                                      PUBLIC    DISCOUNT(1)    STOCKHOLDERS(2)
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
<S>                                 <C>         <C>          <C>
Per Share.........................    $            $                $
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total(3)..........................  $            $               $
</TABLE>

- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(1) The Company and the Selling Stockholders have severally agreed to indemnify
    the several Underwriters against certain liabilities, including liabilities
    under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended. See "Underwriting."
(2) The Company has agreed to pay certain expenses of the Offering estimated at
    $   .
(3) Air Canada has granted the U.S. Underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up
    to 200,000 additional shares of Class B common stock on the same terms and
    conditions as set forth above. If all such additional shares are purchased
    by the Underwriters, the total Price to Public will be $   , the total
    Underwriting Discount will be $    and the total Proceeds to Selling
    Stockholders will be $   . See "Underwriting."
 
                                  -----------
 
  The Shares are offered by the several Underwriters, subject to prior sale,
when, as and if delivered to and accepted by them, subject to approval of
certain legal matters by counsel to the Underwriters, and certain other
conditions. The Underwriters reserve the right to withdraw, cancel or modify
such offer and to reject orders in whole or in part. It is expected that
delivery of the Shares will be made in New York, New York on or about    ,
1996.
 
                                  -----------
 
MERRILL LYNCH INTERNATIONAL LIMITED
 
                   GOLDMAN SACHS INTERNATIONAL
 
                                     LEHMAN BROTHERS
 
                                                    MORGAN STANLEY & CO.
                                                       INTERNATIONAL
 
                                  -----------
 
                   The date of this Prospectus is    , 1996.

<PAGE>
 
                                                             ALTERNATE PAGE FOR
                                                       INTERNATIONAL PROSPECTUS
 
                                 UNDERWRITING
 
  Subject to the terms and conditions set forth in a purchase agreement (the
"International Purchase Agreement") between the Selling Stockholders, the
Company and each of the underwriters named below (the "International
Underwriters"), and concurrently with the sale of 3,416,812 Shares to the U.S.
Underwriters (as defined below), the Selling Stockholders have agreed to sell
to each of the International Underwriters named below, and each of the
International Underwriters, for whom Merrill Lynch International Limited,
Goldman Sachs International, Lehman Brothers International (Europe) and Morgan
Stanley & Co. International Limited are acting as representatives (the
"International Representatives"), severally has agreed to purchase from the
Selling Stockholders, the aggregate number of Shares set forth opposite its
name below:
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                                                       NUMBER OF
          INTERNATIONAL UNDERWRITERS                                    SHARES
          --------------------------                                   ---------
     <S>                                                               <C>
     Merrill Lynch International Limited..............................
     Goldman Sachs International......................................
     Lehman Brothers International (Europe)...........................
     Morgan Stanley & Co. International Limited.......................
                                                                        -------
          Total.......................................................  854,203
                                                                        =======
</TABLE>

 
  The Company and the Selling Stockholders also have entered into a purchase
agreement (the "U.S. Purchase Agreement") with certain underwriters in the
United States and Canada (the "U.S. Underwriters" and, together with the
International Underwriters, the "Underwriters") for whom Merrill Lynch,
Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated, Goldman, Sachs & Co., Lehman Brothers
Inc. and Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated are acting as representatives (the
"U.S. Representatives"). Subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the
U.S. Purchase Agreement, and concurrently with the sale of 854,203 Shares to
the International Underwriters pursuant to the International Purchase
Agreement, the Selling Stockholders have agreed to sell to the U.S.
Underwriters, and the U.S. Underwriters severally have agreed to purchase, an
aggregate of 3,416,812 Shares. The initial public offering price per share and
the underwriting discount per share are identical under the International
Purchase Agreement and the U.S. Purchase Agreement.
 
  In the International Purchase Agreement and the U.S. Purchase Agreement, the
several International Underwriters and the several U.S. Underwriters,
respectively, have agreed, subject to the terms and conditions set forth
therein, to purchase all of the Shares being sold pursuant to each such
Agreement if any of the shares being sold pursuant to each such Agreement are
purchased. Under certain circumstances, the commitments of non-defaulting
International Underwriters or U.S. Underwriters (as the case may be) may be
increased. The closings with respect to the sale of the Shares to the
International Underwriters and the U.S. Underwriters are conditioned upon one
another.
 
  The International Underwriters and the U.S. Underwriters have entered into
an intersyndicate agreement (the "Intersyndicate Agreement") which provides
for the coordination of their activities. The Underwriters are permitted to
sell Shares to each other for the purposes of resale at the initial public
offering price, less an amount not greater than the selling concession. Under
the terms of the Intersyndicate Agreement, the U.S. Underwriters and any
dealer to whom they sell Shares will only offer to sell or sell Shares to
persons who are United States or Canadian persons or to persons they believe
intend to resell to persons who are United States or Canadian persons, and the
International Underwriters and any dealer to whom they sell Shares will not
offer to sell or sell Shares to United States or Canadian persons or to
persons they believe intend to resell to United States or Canadian persons,
except, in each case, for transactions pursuant to the Intersyndicate
Agreement.
 
  The International Representatives have advised the Selling Stockholders that
the International Underwriters propose initially to offer the Shares to the
public at the initial public offering price set forth on the cover page of
 
                                      40

<PAGE>
 
                                                             ALTERNATE PAGE FOR
                                                       INTERNATIONAL PROSPECTUS

this Prospectus, and to certain dealers (who may include International
Underwriters) at such price less a concession not in excess of $    per share.
The International Underwriters may allow, and such dealers may reallow, a
discount not in excess of $    per share on sales to certain other dealers.
After the Offering, the public offering price, concession and discount may be
changed.
 
  Air Canada has granted an option to the U.S. Underwriters exercisable during
the 30-day period after the date of this Prospectus, to purchase up to an
aggregate of 200,000 additional shares at the initial public offering price
set forth on the cover page of this Prospectus, less the underwriting
discount. The U.S. Underwriters may exercise the option only to cover over-
allotments, if any, made on the sale of the Shares offered hereby. To the
extent that the U.S. Underwriters exercise the option, each U.S. Underwriter
will be obligated, subject to certain conditions, to purchase the same
percentage of such of additional shares as the number of Shares to be
purchased by it bears to the total number of Shares initially offered by the
U.S. Underwriters.
 
  The Company has agreed that, except with the prior written consent of
Merrill Lynch, it will not, directly or indirectly, for a period of 90 days
after the date of the U.S. Purchase Agreement, offer, sell, contract to sell
or otherwise dispose of any shares of common stock of the Company or any
interests therein or any securities convertible into or exchangeable for
shares of common stock or other equity interests of the Company, except that
the Company may issue shares of common stock or other equity interests (i)
pursuant to the exercise or conversion of options, warrants or other
securities outstanding on the date of the U.S. Purchase Agreement, (ii)
pursuant to the grant of stock options or other stock-based awards (and the
exercise thereof) to directors, officers and employees of the Company or its
subsidiaries, and (iii) as may be required pursuant to the Certificate of
Incorporation.
 
  Air Canada and Air Partners have agreed that, except with the prior written
consent of Merrill Lynch, they will not, directly or indirectly, for a period
of 90 days after the date of the U.S. Purchase Agreement, offer, sell,
contract to sell or otherwise dispose of any shares of common stock of the
Company (except, in the case of Air Canada, for Shares included in the
Offering), any interests therein, or any securities convertible into or
exchangeable for shares of common stock of the Company, except that Air
Partners may (i) convert shares of common stock of one class for shares of
common stock of another class or for other equity interests in the Company and
(ii) transfer common stock or other equity interests in the Company to any of
its partners or affiliates (including the Company) if such transferee agrees
to be bound by the agreement set forth in this paragraph.
 
  Each of the AP Investors has agreed that, except with the prior written
consent of Merrill Lynch, it will not directly or indirectly, for a period of
90 days after the date of the U.S. Purchase Agreement, offer, sell, contract
to sell or otherwise dispose of any shares of common stock of the Company
(except for Shares included in the Offering) or any interests therein or any
securities convertible into or exchangeable for shares of common stock of the
Company, in each case that have been received, or that may hereafter be
acquired, from Air Partners.
 
  Each International Underwriter has agreed that (i) it has not offered or
sold, and will not for a period of six months following consummation of the
Offering offer or sell, in the United Kingdom by means of any document, any
shares of Class B common stock offered hereby, other than to persons whose
ordinary activities involve them in acquiring, holding, managing or disposing
of investments (as principal or agent) for the purposes of their businesses or
otherwise in circumstances that do not constitute an offer to the public
within the meaning of the Public Offers of Securities Regulations 1995, (ii)
it has complied with and will comply with all applicable provisions of the
Financial Services Act 1986 with respect to anything done by it in relation to
the shares of Class B common stock in, from, or otherwise involving the United
Kingdom and (iii) it has only issued or passed on and will only issue or pass
on to any person in the United Kingdom any document received by it in
connection with the issue of the shares of Class B common stock if that person
is of a kind described in Article 11(3) of the Financial Services Act 1986
(Investment Advertisements) (Exemptions) Order 1995, as amended, or is a
person to whom the document may otherwise lawfully be issued or passed on.
 
                                      41

<PAGE>
 
                                                             ALTERNATE PAGE FOR
                                                       INTERNATIONAL PROSPECTUS
 
  The Company and the Selling Stockholders have severally agreed to indemnify
the several Underwriters against certain liabilities, including liabilities
under the Securities Act or to contribute to payments the Underwriters may be
required to make in respect thereof.
 
  Purchasers of the Shares offered hereby may be required to pay stamp taxes
and other charges in accordance with the laws and practices of the country of
purchase, in addition to the offering price set forth on the cover page
hereof.
 
  Certain of the Underwriters or their affiliates have provided from time to
time, and may provide in the future, investment banking services to the
Company and its affiliates, for which such Underwriters or their affiliates
have received or will receive fees and commissions.
 
                                 LEGAL MATTERS
 
  The validity of the Class B common Stock offered hereby will be passed upon
for Continental by Jeffery A. Smisek, Esq., General Counsel of the Company.
Certain legal matters will be passed upon for Continental by Cleary, Gottlieb,
Steen & Hamilton, New York, New York, and for the Underwriters by Cahill
Gordon & Reindel, a partnership including a professional corporation, New
York, New York.
 
                                    EXPERTS
 
  The consolidated financial statements (including schedules incorporated by
reference) of Continental Airlines, Inc. at December 31, 1995 and 1994 and for
each of the two years ended December 31, 1995 and for the period April 28,
1993 through December 31, 1993, and the consolidated statements of operations,
redeemable and non-redeemable preferred stock and common stockholders' equity
and cash flows of Continental Airlines Holdings, Inc. for the period January
1, 1993 through April 27, 1993, incorporated by reference in this Prospectus
and Registration Statement have been audited by Ernst & Young LLP, independent
auditors, as set forth in their reports thereon included therein and
incorporated herein by reference, in reliance upon such reports given upon the
authority of such firm as experts in accounting and auditing.
 
                                      42

<PAGE>
 
                                                              ALTERNATE PAGE FOR
                                                        INTERNATIONAL PROSPECTUS
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
 NO DEALER, SALESPERSON OR OTHER INDIVIDUAL HAS BEEN AUTHORIZED TO GIVE ANY IN-
FORMATION OR TO MAKE ANY REPRESENTATION OTHER THAN THOSE CONTAINED IN THIS PRO-
SPECTUS IN CONNECTION WITH THE OFFERING COVERED BY THIS PROSPECTUS. IF GIVEN OR
MADE, SUCH INFORMATION OR REPRESENTATIONS MUST NOT BE RELIED UPON AS HAVING
BEEN AUTHORIZED BY THE COMPANY, THE SELLING STOCKHOLDERS OR THE UNDERWRITERS.
THIS PROSPECTUS DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AN OFFER TO SELL, OR A SOLICITATION OF AN
OFFER TO BUY THE CLASS B COMMON STOCK IN ANY JURISDICTION WHERE, OR TO ANY PER-
SON TO WHOM, IT IS UNLAWFUL TO MAKE SUCH OFFER OR SOLICITATION. NEITHER THE DE-
LIVERY OF THIS PROSPECTUS NOR ANY SALE MADE HEREUNDER SHALL, UNDER ANY CIRCUM-
STANCES, CREATE AN IMPLICATION THAT THERE HAS NOT BEEN ANY CHANGE IN THE FACTS
SET FORTH IN THIS PROSPECTUS OR IN THE AFFAIRS OF THE COMPANY SINCE THE DATE
HEREOF.
 
 IN THIS PROSPECTUS, REFERENCES TO "DOLLARS" AND "$" ARE TO UNITED STATES DOL-
LARS.
 
                                ---------------
 
                               TABLE OF CONTENTS
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                                                          PAGE
                                                                          ----
<S>                                                                       <C>
Available Information....................................................   2
Incorporation of Certain Documents by Reference..........................   3
Prospectus Summary.......................................................   4
Risk Factors.............................................................  13
Recent Developments......................................................  17
Use of Proceeds..........................................................  19
Market Price of Common Stock and Dividends...............................  19
Selected Financial Data..................................................  20
Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results
 of Operations...........................................................  22
Principal and Selling Stockholders.......................................  26
Description of Capital Stock.............................................  31
Shares Eligible for Future Sale..........................................  36
Certain U.S. Tax Consequences to Non-U.S. Holders........................  37
Underwriting.............................................................  40
Legal Matters............................................................  42
Experts..................................................................  42
</TABLE>

 
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                4,271,015 SHARES
 
                           CONTINENTAL AIRLINES, INC.
 
                              CLASS B COMMON STOCK
 
                                ---------------
 
                                   PROSPECTUS
 
                                ---------------
 
                      MERRILL LYNCH INTERNATIONAL LIMITED
 
                          GOLDMAN SACHS INTERNATIONAL
 
                                LEHMAN BROTHERS
 
                              MORGAN STANLEY & CO.
                                 INTERNATIONAL
 
                                      , 1996
 
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

<PAGE>
 
 
                                   PART II
 
                    INFORMATION NOT REQUIRED IN PROSPECTUS
 
ITEM 14. OTHER EXPENSES OF ISSUANCE AND DISTRIBUTION.
 
  The following is an itemized list of expenses (all of which are estimates
other than the registration fee and the NASD filing fee) of Continental in
connection with registration of the Shares being registered hereby.
Continental will pay all expenses incident to the registration of the Shares
under the Securities Act including fees and disbursements of counsel to the
Selling Stockholders.
 

<TABLE>
   <S>                                                                 <C>
   Securities and Exchange Commission registration filing fee......... $ 92,408
   NASD filing fee.................................................... $ 27,299
   Blue Sky qualification fees and expenses, including legal fee......
   Printing and engraving expenses....................................
   Accounting fees and expenses.......................................
   Legal fees and expenses............................................
   Miscellaneous......................................................
                                                                       --------
       Total.......................................................... $
                                                                       ========
</TABLE>

 
ITEM 15. INDEMNIFICATION OF DIRECTORS AND OFFICERS.
 
  The Company's Certificate of Incorporation and bylaws provide that the
Company will indemnify each of its directors and officers to the full extent
permitted by the laws of the State of Delaware and may indemnify certain other
persons as authorized by the Delaware General Corporation Law (the "GCL").
Section 145 of the GCL provides as follows:
 
  "(a) A corporation may indemnify any person who was or is a party or is
threatened to be made a party to any threatened, pending or completed action,
suit or proceeding, whether civil, criminal, administrative or investigative
(other than an action by or in the right of the corporation) by reason of the
fact that he is or was a director, officer, employee or agent of the
corporation, or is or was serving at the request of the corporation as a
director, officer, employee or agent of another corporation, partnership,
joint venture, trust or other enterprise, against expenses (including
attorneys' fees), judgments, fines and amounts paid in settlement actually and
reasonably incurred by him in connection with such action, suit or proceeding
if he acted in good faith and in a manner he reasonably believed to be in or
not opposed to the best interests of the corporation, and, with respect to any
criminal action or proceeding, had no reasonable cause to believe his conduct
was unlawful. The termination of any action, suit or proceeding by judgment,
order, settlement, conviction, or upon a plea of nolo contendere or its
equivalent, shall not, of itself, create a presumption that the person did not
act in good faith and in a manner which he reasonably believed to be in or not
opposed to the best interests of the corporation, and, with respect to any
criminal action or proceeding, had reasonable cause to believe that his
conduct was unlawful.
 
  (b) A corporation may indemnify any person who was or is a party or is
threatened to be made a party to any threatened, pending or completed action
or suit by or in the right of the corporation to procure a judgment in its
favor by reason of the fact that he is or was a director, officer, employee or
agent of the corporation, or is or was serving at the request of the
corporation as a director, officer, employee or agent of another corporation,
partnership, joint venture, trust or other enterprise against expenses
(including attorneys' fees) actually and reasonably incurred by him in
connection with the defense or settlement of such action or suit if he acted
in good faith and in a manner he reasonably believed to be in or not opposed
to the best interests of the corporation and except that no indemnification
shall be made in respect of any claim, issue or matter as to which such person
shall have been adjudged to be liable to the corporation unless and only to
the extent that the Court of Chancery or the court in which such action or
suit was brought shall determine upon application that, despite the
 
                                     II-1

<PAGE>
 
adjudication of liability but in view of all the circumstances of the case,
such person is fairly and reasonably entitled to indemnity for such expenses
which the Court of Chancery or such other court shall deem proper.
 
  (c) To the extent that a director, officer, employee or agent of a
corporation has been successful on the merits or otherwise in defense of any
action, suit or proceeding referred to in subsections (a) and (b) of this
section, or in defense of any claim, issue or matter therein, he shall be
indemnified against expenses (including attorneys' fees) actually and
reasonably incurred by him in connection therewith.
 
  (d) Any indemnification under subsections (a) and (b) of this section
(unless ordered by a court) shall be made by the corporation only as
authorized in the specific case upon a determination that indemnification of
the director, officer, employee or agent is proper in the circumstances
because he has met the applicable standard of conduct set forth in subsections
(a) and (b). Such determination shall be made (1) by a majority vote of the
board of directors who are not parties to such action, suit or proceeding,
even though less than a quorum, or (2) if there are no such directors, or if
such directors so direct, by independent legal counsel in a written opinion,
or (3) by the stockholders.
 
  (e) Expenses (including attorneys' fees) incurred by an officer or director
in defending any civil, criminal, administrative, or investigative action,
suit or proceeding may be paid by the corporation in advance of the final
disposition of such action, suit or proceeding upon receipt of an undertaking
by or on behalf of such director or officer to repay such amount if it shall
ultimately be determined that he is not entitled to be indemnified by the
corporation as authorized in this section. Such expenses (including attorneys'
fees) incurred by other employees and agents may be so paid upon such terms
and conditions, if any, as the board of directors deems appropriate.
 
  (f) The indemnification and advancement of expenses provided by, or granted
pursuant to, the other subsections of this section shall not be deemed
exclusive of any other rights to which those seeking indemnification or
advancement of expenses may be entitled under any bylaw, agreement, vote of
stockholders or disinterested directors or otherwise, both as to action in his
official capacity and as to action in another capacity while holding such
office.
 
  (g) A corporation shall have power to purchase and maintain insurance on
behalf of any person who is or was a director, officer, employee or agent of
the corporation, or is or was serving at the request of the corporation as a
director, officer, employee or agent of another corporation, partnership,
joint venture, trust or other enterprise against any liability asserted
against him and incurred by him in any such capacity, or arising out of his
status as such, whether or not the corporation would have the power to
indemnify him against such liability under this section.
 
  (h) For purposes of this section, references to "the corporation" shall
include, in addition to the resulting corporation, any constituent corporation
(including any constituent of a constituent) absorbed in a consolidation or
merger which, if its separate existence had continued, would have had power
and authority to indemnify its directors, officers, and employees or agents,
so that any person who is or was a director, officer, employee or agent for
such constituent corporation, or is or was serving at the request of such
constituent corporation as a director, officer, employee or agent of another
corporation, partnership, joint venture, trust or other enterprise, shall
stand in the same position under this section with respect to the resulting or
surviving corporation as he would have with respect to such constituent
corporation if its separate existence had continued.
 
  (i) For purposes of this section, references to "other enterprises" shall
include employee benefit plans; references to "fines" shall include any excise
taxes assessed on a person with respect to an employee benefit plan; and
references to "serving at the request of the corporation" shall include any
service as a director, officer, employee or agent of the corporation which
imposes duties on, or involves services by, such director, officer, employee,
or agent with respect to an employee benefit plan, its participants, or
beneficiaries; and a person who acted in good faith and in a manner he
reasonably believed to be in the interest of the participants and
beneficiaries of an employee benefit plan shall be deemed to have acted in a
manner "not opposed to the best interests of the corporation" as referred to
in this section.
 
                                     II-2

<PAGE>
 
  (j) The indemnification and advancement of expenses provided by, or granted
pursuant to, this section shall, unless otherwise provided when authorized or
ratified, continue as to a person who has ceased to be a director, officer,
employee or agent and shall inure to the benefit of the heirs, executors and
administrators of such a person.
 
  (k) The Court of Chancery is hereby vested with exclusive jurisdiction to
hear and determine all actions for advancement of expenses or indemnification
brought under this section or under any bylaw, agreement, vote of stockholders
or disinterested directors, or otherwise. The Court of Chancery may summarily
determine a corporation's obligation to advance expenses (including attorneys'
fees).
 
  The Certificate of Incorporation and bylaws also limit the personal
liability of directors to the Company and its stockholders for monetary
damages resulting from certain breaches of the directors' fiduciary duties.
The bylaws of the Company provide as follows:
 
  "No Director of the Corporation shall be personally liable to the
Corporation or its stockholders for monetary damages for breach of fiduciary
duty as a Director, except for liability (i) for any breach of the Director's
duty of loyalty to the corporation or its stockholders, (ii) for acts or
omissions not in good faith or which involve intentional misconduct or a
knowing violation of law, (iii) under Section 174 of the GCL, or (iv) for any
transaction from which the Director derived any improper personal benefit. If
the GCL is amended to authorize corporate action further eliminating or
limiting the personal liability of Directors, then the liability of Directors
of the Corporation shall be eliminated or limited to the full extent permitted
by the GCL, as so amended."
 
  The Company maintains directors' and officers' liability insurance. Air
Partners and Air Canada have also entered into indemnification agreements with
directors and officers of the Company covering certain liabilities, excluded
from such insurance, that might arise from claims by or on behalf of Air
Partners or Air Canada.
 
ITEM 16. EXHIBITS.
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
 EXHIBIT
 NUMBER                           EXHIBIT DESCRIPTION
 -------                          -------------------
 <C>     <S>
  1.1    Form of U.S. Purchase Agreement among the Company, the Selling
          Stockholders and the U.S. Underwriters**
  1.2    Form of International Purchase Agreement among the Company, the
          Selling Stockholders and the International Underwriters**
  5.1    Opinion of Jeffery A. Smisek, Esq., General Counsel of Continental,
          with respect to the validity of the Class B common stock**
 10.1    Amendment to Stockholders' Agreement dated April 19, 1996 among the
          Company, Air Partners and Air Canada**
 10.2    Amendment to Registration Rights Agreement dated April 19, 1996 among
          the Company, Air Partners and Air Canada**
 23.1    Consent of Ernst & Young LLP*
 23.2    Consent of Jeffery A. Smisek, Esq. (included in his opinion filed as
          Exhibit 5.1)**
 24.1    Powers of Attorney*
</TABLE>

- --------
 * Filed herewith
** To be filed by amendment
 
ITEM 17. UNDERTAKINGS.
 
  The undersigned registrant hereby undertakes that, for purposes of
determining any liability under the Securities Act of 1933, each filing of the
registrant's annual report pursuant to section 13(a) or section 15(d) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (and, where applicable, each filing of an
employee benefit plan's annual
 
                                     II-3

<PAGE>
 
report pursuant to section 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934) that
is incorporated by reference in the registration statement shall be deemed to
be a new registration statement relating to the securities offered therein,
and the offering of such securities at that time shall be deemed to be the
initial bona fide offering thereof.
 
  Insofar as the indemnification for liabilities arising under the Securities
Act of 1933 (the "Act") may be permitted to directors, officers and
controlling persons of the Registrant pursuant to the foregoing provisions, or
otherwise, the Registrant has been advised that, in the opinion of the
Securities and Exchange Commission, such indemnification is against public
policy as expressed in the Act and is, therefore, unenforceable. In the event
that a claim for indemnification against such liabilities (other than the
payment by the Registrant of expenses incurred or paid by a director, officer
or controlling person of the Registrant in the successful defense of any
action, suit or proceeding) is asserted by such director, officer or
controlling person in connection with the securities being registered, the
Registrant will, unless in the opinion of its counsel the matter has been
settled by controlling precedent, submit to a court of appropriate
jurisdiction the question whether such indemnification by it is against public
policy as expressed in the Act and will be governed by the final adjudication
of such issue.
 
  The undersigned registrant hereby undertakes that:
 
 
    (1) For purposes of determining any liability under the Securities Act of
  1933, the information omitted from the form of prospectus filed as part of
  this registration statement in reliance upon Rule 430A and contained in the
  form of prospectus filed by the registrant pursuant to Rule 424(b)(1) or
  (4) or 497(h) under the Securities Act shall be deemed to be part of this
  registration statement as of the time it was declared effective.
 
    (2) For the purpose of determining any liability under the Securities Act
  of 1933, each post-effective amendment that contains a form of prospectus
  shall be deemed to be a new registration statement relating to the
  securities offered therein, and the offering of such securities at that
  time shall be deemed to be the initial bona fide offering thereof.
 
                                     II-4

<PAGE>
 

                                  SIGNATURES
 
  PURSUANT TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933, THE REGISTRANT
CERTIFIES THAT IT HAS REASONABLE GROUNDS TO BELIEVE THAT IT MEETS ALL OF THE
REQUIREMENTS FOR FILING ON FORM S-3 AND HAS DULY CAUSED THIS REGISTRATION
STATEMENT TO BE SIGNED ON ITS BEHALF BY THE UNDERSIGNED, THEREUNTO DULY
AUTHORIZED, IN THE CITY OF HOUSTON, STATE OF TEXAS, ON APRIL 22, 1996.
 
                                          Continental Airlines, Inc.
 
                                              
                                          By:    /s/ Lawrence W. Kellner
                                              ---------------------------------
                                                    Lawrence W. Kellner
                                              Senior Vice President and Chief
                                                     Financial Officer
 
  PURSUANT TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933, THIS
REGISTRATION STATEMENT HAS BEEN SIGNED BY THE FOLLOWING PERSONS IN THE
CAPACITIES AND ON THE DATES INDICATED, ON APRIL 22, 1996.
 
              SIGNATURE                                 TITLE
              ---------                                 -----
 
        /s/ Gordon M. Bethune          President, Chief Executive Officer
- -------------------------------------   (Principal Executive Officer) and
          GORDON M. BETHUNE             Director
 
       /s/ Lawrence W. Kellner         Senior Vice President and Chief
- -------------------------------------  Financial Officer (Principal Financial
         LAWRENCE W. KELLNER           Officer)
 
     /s/ Michael P. Bonds              Staff Vice President and Controller
- -------------------------------------   (Principal Accounting Officer)
          MICHAEL P. BONDS
 
                 *                     Director
- -------------------------------------
       THOMAS J. BARRACK, JR.
 
                 *                     Director
- -------------------------------------
           DAVID BONDERMAN
 
      /s/ Gregory D. Brenneman         Director
- -------------------------------------
        GREGORY D. BRENNEMAN
 
                                     II-5

<PAGE>
 
              SIGNATURE                                  TITLE
              ---------                                  -----
 
                 *                      Director
- -------------------------------------
            JOEL H. COWAN
 
                                        Director
- -------------------------------------
            PATRICK FOLEY
 
                 *                      Director
- -------------------------------------
          ROWLAND C. FRAZEE
 
                 *                      Director
- -------------------------------------
          HOLLIS L. HARRIS
 
                 *                      Director
- -------------------------------------
           DEAN C. KEHLER
 
                 *                      Director
- -------------------------------------
         ROBERT L. LUMPKINS
 
                 *                      Director
- -------------------------------------
       DOUGLAS H. MCCORKINDALE
 
                 *                      Director
- -------------------------------------
       DAVID E. MITCHELL, O.C.
 
                 *                      Director
- -------------------------------------
          RICHARD W. POGUE
 
                 *                      Director
- -------------------------------------
        WILLIAM S. PRICE III
 
                                      II-6

<PAGE>
 
              SIGNATURE                                  TITLE
              ---------                                  -----
 
                 *                      Director
- -------------------------------------
           DONALD L. STURM
 
                 *                      Director
- -------------------------------------
       CLAUDE I. TAYLOR, O.C.
 
                 *                      Director
- -------------------------------------
        KAREN HASTIE WILLIAMS
 
                 *                      Director
- -------------------------------------
         CHARLES A. YAMARONE
 
     *By: /s/ Scott R. Peterson,
          Attorney-in-fact
- -------------------------------------
 SCOTT R. PETERSON, ATTORNEY-IN-FACT
 
                                      II-7

<PAGE>
 

                                 EXHIBIT INDEX
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
 EXHIBIT
 NUMBER                           EXHIBIT DESCRIPTION
 -------                          -------------------
 <C>     <S>
  1.1    Form of U.S. Purchase Agreement among the Company, the Selling
          Stockholders and the U.S. Underwriters**
  1.2    Form of International Purchase Agreement among the Company, the
          Selling Stockholders and the International Underwriters**
  5.1    Opinion of Jeffery A. Smisek, Esq., General Counsel of Continental,
          with respect to the validity of the Class B common stock**
 10.1    Amendment to Stockholders' Agreement dated April 19, 1996 among the
          Company, Air Partners and Air Canada**
 10.2    Amendment to Registration Rights Agreement dated April 19, 1996 among
          the Company, Air Partners and Air Canada**
 23.1    Consent of Ernst & Young LLP*
 23.2    Consent of Jeffery A. Smisek, Esq. (included in his opinion filed as
          Exhibit 5.1)**
 24.1    Powers of Attorney*
</TABLE>

- --------
 * Filed herewith
** To be filed by amendment





<PAGE>
 
                                                                    EXHIBIT 23.1


                        CONSENT OF INDEPENDENT AUDITORS


We consent to the reference to our firm under the caption "Experts" in the
Registration Statement (Form S-3) and related Prospectus of Continental
Airlines, Inc. for the registration of 4,471,015 shares of its Class B common
stock and to the incorporation by reference therein of our reports dated
February 12, 1996, with respect to the consolidated financial statements and
schedules of Continental Airlines, Inc. included in its Annual Report 
(Form 10-K) for the year ended December 31, 1995, filed with the Securities and 
Exchange Commission.


/s/ Ernst & Young LLP
Houston, Texas
April 19, 1996





<PAGE>

                                                                 Exhibit 24.1(a)
 
                               POWER OF ATTORNEY

   The undersigned director of Continental Airlines, Inc., a Delaware
corporation (the "Company"), does hereby constitute and appoint Lawrence W.
Kellner, Jeffery A. Smisek and Scott R. Peterson, or any of them, as the
undersigned's true and lawful attorneys in-fact and agents to do any and all
things in the undersigned's name and behalf in the undersigned's capacity as a
director of the Company, and to execute any and all instruments for the
undersigned and in the undersigned's name and capacity as a director that such
person or persons may deem necessary or advisable to enable the Company to
comply with the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and any rules, regulations
or requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with
that certain Registration Statement on Form S-3 relating to a secondary offering
of the Company's Class B common stock (the "Registration Statement"), including
specifically, but not limited to, power and authority to sign for the
undersigned in the capacity as a director of the Company the Registration
Statement, and any and all amendments thereto, including post-effective
amendments, and the undersigned does hereby ratify and confirm
 all that such
person or persons shall do or cause to be done by virtue hereof.



                                                     /s/  Thomas J. Barrack, Jr.
                                                     ---------------------------


                                           Printed Name:  Thomas J. Barrack, Jr.
                                                          ----------------------

Dated: April 22, 1996

<PAGE>

                                                                 Exhibit 24.1(b)
 
                               POWER OF ATTORNEY

   The undersigned director of Continental Airlines, Inc., a Delaware
corporation (the "Company"), does hereby constitute and appoint Lawrence W.
Kellner, Jeffery A. Smisek and Scott R. Peterson, or any of them, as the
undersigned's true and lawful attorneys in-fact and agents to do any and all
things in the undersigned's name and behalf in the undersigned's capacity as a
director of the Company, and to execute any and all instruments for the
undersigned and in the undersigned's name and capacity as a director that such
person or persons may deem necessary or advisable to enable the Company to
comply with the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and any rules, regulations
or requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with
that certain Registration Statement on Form S-3 relating to a secondary offering
of the Company's Class B common stock (the "Registration Statement"), including
specifically, but not limited to, power and authority to sign for the
undersigned in the capacity as a director of the Company the Registration
Statement, and any and all amendments thereto, including post-effective
amendments, and the undersigned does hereby ratify and confirm all that such
person or persons shall do or cause to be done by virtue hereof.



                                                            /s/  David Bonderman
                                                            --------------------


                                                  Printed Name:  David Bonderman
                                                                 ---------------

Dated: April 22, 1996


<PAGE>

                                                                 Exhibit 24.1(c)
 
                               POWER OF ATTORNEY

   The undersigned director of Continental Airlines, Inc., a Delaware
corporation (the "Company"), does hereby constitute and appoint Lawrence W.
Kellner, Jeffery A. Smisek and Scott R. Peterson, or any of them, as the
undersigned's true and lawful attorneys in-fact and agents to do any and all
things in the undersigned's name and behalf in the undersigned's capacity as a
director of the Company, and to execute any and all instruments for the
undersigned and in the undersigned's name and capacity as a director that such
person or persons may deem necessary or advisable to enable the Company to
comply with the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and any rules, regulations
or requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with
that certain Registration Statement on Form S-3 relating to a secondary offering
of the Company's Class B common stock (the "Registration Statement"), including
specifically, but not limited to, power and authority to sign for the
undersigned in the capacity as a director of the Company the Registration
Statement, and any and all amendments thereto, including post-effective
amendments, and the undersigned does hereby ratify and confirm all that such
person or persons shall do or cause to be done by virtue hereof.



                                                       /s/  Gregory D. Brenneman
                                                       -------------------------
                                                                                

                                             Printed Name:  Gregory D. Brenneman
                                                            --------------------

Dated: April 22, 1996


<PAGE>

                                                                 Exhibit 24.1(d)
 
                               POWER OF ATTORNEY

   The undersigned director of Continental Airlines, Inc., a Delaware
corporation (the "Company"), does hereby constitute and appoint Lawrence W.
Kellner, Jeffery A. Smisek and Scott R. Peterson, or any of them, as the
undersigned's true and lawful attorneys in-fact and agents to do any and all
things in the undersigned's name and behalf in the undersigned's capacity as a
director of the Company, and to execute any and all instruments for the
undersigned and in the undersigned's name and capacity as a director that such
person or persons may deem necessary or advisable to enable the Company to
comply with the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and any rules, regulations
or requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with
that certain Registration Statement on Form S-3 relating to a secondary offering
of the Company's Class B common stock (the "Registration Statement"), including
specifically, but not limited to, power and authority to sign for the
undersigned in the capacity as a director of the Company the Registration
Statement, and any and all amendments thereto, including post-effective
amendments, and the undersigned does hereby ratify and confirm all that such
person or persons shall do or cause to be done by virtue hereof.



                                                              /s/  Joel H. Cowan
                                                              ------------------


                                                    Printed Name:  Joel H. Cowan
                                                                   -------------

Dated: April 22, 1996


<PAGE>

                                                                 Exhibit 24.1(e)
 
                               POWER OF ATTORNEY

   The undersigned director of Continental Airlines, Inc., a Delaware
corporation (the "Company"), does hereby constitute and appoint Lawrence W.
Kellner, Jeffery A. Smisek and Scott R. Peterson, or any of them, as the
undersigned's true and lawful attorneys in-fact and agents to do any and all
things in the undersigned's name and behalf in the undersigned's capacity as a
director of the Company, and to execute any and all instruments for the
undersigned and in the undersigned's name and capacity as a director that such
person or persons may deem necessary or advisable to enable the Company to
comply with the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and any rules, regulations
or requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with
that certain Registration Statement on Form S-3 relating to a secondary offering
of the Company's Class B common stock (the "Registration Statement"), including
specifically, but not limited to, power and authority to sign for the
undersigned in the capacity as a director of the Company the Registration
Statement, and any and all amendments thereto, including post-effective
amendments, and the undersigned does hereby ratify and confirm all that such
person or persons shall do or cause to be done by virtue hereof.



                                                          /s/  Rowland C. Frazee
                                                          ----------------------


                                                Printed Name:  Rowland C. Frazee
                                                               -----------------

Dated: April 22, 1996


<PAGE>

                                                                 Exhibit 24.1(f)
 
                               POWER OF ATTORNEY

   The undersigned director of Continental Airlines, Inc., a Delaware
corporation (the "Company"), does hereby constitute and appoint Lawrence W.
Kellner, Jeffery A. Smisek and Scott R. Peterson, or any of them, as the
undersigned's true and lawful attorneys in-fact and agents to do any and all
things in the undersigned's name and behalf in the undersigned's capacity as a
director of the Company, and to execute any and all instruments for the
undersigned and in the undersigned's name and capacity as a director that such
person or persons may deem necessary or advisable to enable the Company to
comply with the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and any rules, regulations
or requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with
that certain Registration Statement on Form S-3 relating to a secondary offering
of the Company's Class B common stock (the "Registration Statement"), including
specifically, but not limited to, power and authority to sign for the
undersigned in the capacity as a director of the Company the Registration
Statement, and any and all amendments thereto, including post-effective
amendments, and the undersigned does hereby ratify and confirm all that such
person or persons shall do or cause to be done by virtue hereof.



                                                           /s/  Hollis L. Harris
                                                           ---------------------


                                                 Printed Name:  Hollis L. Harris
                                                                ----------------

Dated: April 22, 1996


<PAGE>

                                                                 Exhibit 24.1(g)
 
                               POWER OF ATTORNEY

   The undersigned director of Continental Airlines, Inc., a Delaware
corporation (the "Company"), does hereby constitute and appoint Lawrence W.
Kellner, Jeffery A. Smisek and Scott R. Peterson, or any of them, as the
undersigned's true and lawful attorneys in-fact and agents to do any and all
things in the undersigned's name and behalf in the undersigned's capacity as a
director of the Company, and to execute any and all instruments for the
undersigned and in the undersigned's name and capacity as a director that such
person or persons may deem necessary or advisable to enable the Company to
comply with the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and any rules, regulations
or requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with
that certain Registration Statement on Form S-3 relating to a secondary offering
of the Company's Class B common stock (the "Registration Statement"), including
specifically, but not limited to, power and authority to sign for the
undersigned in the capacity as a director of the Company the Registration
Statement, and any and all amendments thereto, including post-effective
amendments, and the undersigned does hereby ratify and confirm all that such
person or persons shall do or cause to be done by virtue hereof.



                                                             /s/  Dean C. Kehler
                                                             -------------------


                                                   Printed Name:  Dean C. Kehler
                                                                  --------------

Dated: April 22, 1996


<PAGE>

                                                                 Exhibit 24.1(h)
 
                               POWER OF ATTORNEY

   The undersigned director of Continental Airlines, Inc., a Delaware
corporation (the "Company"), does hereby constitute and appoint Lawrence W.
Kellner, Jeffery A. Smisek and Scott R. Peterson, or any of them, as the
undersigned's true and lawful attorneys in-fact and agents to do any and all
things in the undersigned's name and behalf in the undersigned's capacity as a
director of the Company, and to execute any and all instruments for the
undersigned and in the undersigned's name and capacity as a director that such
person or persons may deem necessary or advisable to enable the Company to
comply with the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and any rules, regulations
or requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with
that certain Registration Statement on Form S-3 relating to a secondary offering
of the Company's Class B common stock (the "Registration Statement"), including
specifically, but not limited to, power and authority to sign for the
undersigned in the capacity as a director of the Company the Registration
Statement, and any and all amendments thereto, including post-effective
amendments, and the undersigned does hereby ratify and confirm all that such
person or persons shall do or cause to be done by virtue hereof.



                                                         /s/  Robert L. Lumpkins
                                                         -----------------------


                                               Printed Name:  Robert L. Lumpkins
                                                              ------------------

Dated: April 22, 1996

<PAGE>

                                                                 Exhibit 24.1(i)
 
                               POWER OF ATTORNEY

   The undersigned director of Continental Airlines, Inc., a Delaware
corporation (the "Company"), does hereby constitute and appoint Lawrence W.
Kellner, Jeffery A. Smisek and Scott R. Peterson, or any of them, as the
undersigned's true and lawful attorneys in-fact and agents to do any and all
things in the undersigned's name and behalf in the undersigned's capacity as a
director of the Company, and to execute any and all instruments for the
undersigned and in the undersigned's name and capacity as a director that such
person or persons may deem necessary or advisable to enable the Company to
comply with the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and any rules, regulations
or requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with
that certain Registration Statement on Form S-3 relating to a secondary offering
of the Company's Class B common stock (the "Registration Statement"), including
specifically, but not limited to, power and authority to sign for the
undersigned in the capacity as a director of the Company the Registration
Statement, and any and all amendments thereto, including post-effective
amendments, and the undersigned does hereby ratify and confirm all that such
person or persons shall do or cause to be done by virtue hereof.



                                                      /s/Douglas H. McCorkindale
                                                      --------------------------


                                          Printed Name:  Douglas H. McCorkindale
                                                         -----------------------

Dated: April 22, 1996


<PAGE>

                                                                 Exhibit 24.1(j)
 
                               POWER OF ATTORNEY

   The undersigned director of Continental Airlines, Inc., a Delaware
corporation (the "Company"), does hereby constitute and appoint Lawrence W.
Kellner, Jeffery A. Smisek and Scott R. Peterson, or any of them, as the
undersigned's true and lawful attorneys in-fact and agents to do any and all
things in the undersigned's name and behalf in the undersigned's capacity as a
director of the Company, and to execute any and all instruments for the
undersigned and in the undersigned's name and capacity as a director that such
person or persons may deem necessary or advisable to enable the Company to
comply with the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and any rules, regulations
or requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with
that certain Registration Statement on Form S-3 relating to a secondary offering
of the Company's Class B common stock (the "Registration Statement"), including
specifically, but not limited to, power and authority to sign for the
undersigned in the capacity as a director of the Company the Registration
Statement, and any and all amendments thereto, including post-effective
amendments, and the undersigned does hereby ratify and confirm all that such
person or persons shall do or cause to be done by virtue hereof.



                                                    /s/  David E. Mitchell, O.C.
                                                    ----------------------------


                                          Printed Name:  David E. Mitchell, O.C.
                                                         -----------------------

Dated: April 22, 1996


<PAGE>

                                                                 Exhibit 24.1(k)
 
                               POWER OF ATTORNEY

   The undersigned director of Continental Airlines, Inc., a Delaware
corporation (the "Company"), does hereby constitute and appoint Lawrence W.
Kellner, Jeffery A. Smisek and Scott R. Peterson, or any of them, as the
undersigned's true and lawful attorneys in-fact and agents to do any and all
things in the undersigned's name and behalf in the undersigned's capacity as a
director of the Company, and to execute any and all instruments for the
undersigned and in the undersigned's name and capacity as a director that such
person or persons may deem necessary or advisable to enable the Company to
comply with the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and any rules, regulations
or requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with
that certain Registration Statement on Form S-3 relating to a secondary offering
of the Company's Class B common stock (the "Registration Statement"), including
specifically, but not limited to, power and authority to sign for the
undersigned in the capacity as a director of the Company the Registration
Statement, and any and all amendments thereto, including post-effective
amendments, and the undersigned does hereby ratify and confirm all that such
person or persons shall do or cause to be done by virtue hereof.



                                                           /s/  Richard W. Pogue
                                                           ---------------------


                                                 Printed Name:  Richard W. Pogue
                                                                ----------------

Dated: April 22, 1996


<PAGE>

                                                                 Exhibit 24.1(l)
 
                               POWER OF ATTORNEY

   The undersigned director of Continental Airlines, Inc., a Delaware
corporation (the "Company"), does hereby constitute and appoint Lawrence W.
Kellner, Jeffery A. Smisek and Scott R. Peterson, or any of them, as the
undersigned's true and lawful attorneys in-fact and agents to do any and all
things in the undersigned's name and behalf in the undersigned's capacity as a
director of the Company, and to execute any and all instruments for the
undersigned and in the undersigned's name and capacity as a director that such
person or persons may deem necessary or advisable to enable the Company to
comply with the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and any rules, regulations
or requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with
that certain Registration Statement on Form S-3 relating to a secondary offering
of the Company's Class B common stock (the "Registration Statement"), including
specifically, but not limited to, power and authority to sign for the
undersigned in the capacity as a director of the Company the Registration
Statement, and any and all amendments thereto, including post-effective
amendments, and the undersigned does hereby ratify and confirm all that such
person or persons shall do or cause to be done by virtue hereof.



                                                       /s/  William S. Price III
                                                       -------------------------


                                             Printed Name:  William S. Price III
                                                            --------------------

Dated: April 22, 1996


<PAGE>

                                                                 Exhibit 24.1(m)
 
                               POWER OF ATTORNEY

   The undersigned director of Continental Airlines, Inc., a Delaware
corporation (the "Company"), does hereby constitute and appoint Lawrence W.
Kellner, Jeffery A. Smisek and Scott R. Peterson, or any of them, as the
undersigned's true and lawful attorneys in-fact and agents to do any and all
things in the undersigned's name and behalf in the undersigned's capacity as a
director of the Company, and to execute any and all instruments for the
undersigned and in the undersigned's name and capacity as a director that such
person or persons may deem necessary or advisable to enable the Company to
comply with the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and any rules, regulations
or requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with
that certain Registration Statement on Form S-3 relating to a secondary offering
of the Company's Class B common stock (the "Registration Statement"), including
specifically, but not limited to, power and authority to sign for the
undersigned in the capacity as a director of the Company the Registration
Statement, and any and all amendments thereto, including post-effective
amendments, and the undersigned does hereby ratify and confirm all that such
person or persons shall do or cause to be done by virtue hereof.



                                                            /s/  Donald L. Sturm
                                                            --------------------


                                                  Printed Name:  Donald L. Sturm
                                                                 ---------------
Dated: April 22, 1996


<PAGE>

                                                                 Exhibit 24.1(n)
 
                               POWER OF ATTORNEY

   The undersigned director of Continental Airlines, Inc., a Delaware
corporation (the "Company"), does hereby constitute and appoint Lawrence W.
Kellner, Jeffery A. Smisek and Scott R. Peterson, or any of them, as the
undersigned's true and lawful attorneys in-fact and agents to do any and all
things in the undersigned's name and behalf in the undersigned's capacity as a
director of the Company, and to execute any and all instruments for the
undersigned and in the undersigned's name and capacity as a director that such
person or persons may deem necessary or advisable to enable the Company to
comply with the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and any rules, regulations
or requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with
that certain Registration Statement on Form S-3 relating to a secondary offering
of the Company's Class B common stock (the "Registration Statement"), including
specifically, but not limited to, power and authority to sign for the
undersigned in the capacity as a director of the Company the Registration
Statement, and any and all amendments thereto, including post-effective
amendments, and the undersigned does hereby ratify and confirm all that such
person or persons shall do or cause to be done by virtue hereof.



                                                     /s/  Claude I. Taylor, O.C.
                                                     ---------------------------


                                           Printed Name:  Claude I. Taylor, O.C.
                                                          ----------------------

Dated: April 22, 1996


<PAGE>

                                                                 Exhibit 24.1(o)
 
                               POWER OF ATTORNEY

   The undersigned director of Continental Airlines, Inc., a Delaware
corporation (the "Company"), does hereby constitute and appoint Lawrence W.
Kellner, Jeffery A. Smisek and Scott R. Peterson, or any of them, as the
undersigned's true and lawful attorneys in-fact and agents to do any and all
things in the undersigned's name and behalf in the undersigned's capacity as a
director of the Company, and to execute any and all instruments for the
undersigned and in the undersigned's name and capacity as a director that such
person or persons may deem necessary or advisable to enable the Company to
comply with the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and any rules, regulations
or requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with
that certain Registration Statement on Form S-3 relating to a secondary offering
of the Company's Class B common stock (the "Registration Statement"), including
specifically, but not limited to, power and authority to sign for the
undersigned in the capacity as a director of the Company the Registration
Statement, and any and all amendments thereto, including post-effective
amendments, and the undersigned does hereby ratify and confirm all that such
person or persons shall do or cause to be done by virtue hereof.



                                                      /s/  Karen Hastie Williams
                                                      --------------------------


                                            Printed Name:  Karen Hastie Williams
                                                           ---------------------

Dated: April 22, 1996


<PAGE>

                                                                 Exhibit 24.1(p)
 
                               POWER OF ATTORNEY

   The undersigned director of Continental Airlines, Inc., a Delaware
corporation (the "Company"), does hereby constitute and appoint Lawrence W.
Kellner, Jeffery A. Smisek and Scott R. Peterson, or any of them, as the
undersigned's true and lawful attorneys in-fact and agents to do any and all
things in the undersigned's name and behalf in the undersigned's capacity as a
director of the Company, and to execute any and all instruments for the
undersigned and in the undersigned's name and capacity as a director that such
person or persons may deem necessary or advisable to enable the Company to
comply with the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and any rules, regulations
or requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with
that certain Registration Statement on Form S-3 relating to a secondary offering
of the Company's Class B common stock (the "Registration Statement"), including
specifically, but not limited to, power and authority to sign for the
undersigned in the capacity as a director of the Company the Registration
Statement, and any and all amendments thereto, including post-effective
amendments, and the undersigned does hereby ratify and confirm all that such
person or persons shall do or cause to be done by virtue hereof.



                                                        /s/  Charles A. Yamarone
                                                        ------------------------


                                              Printed Name:  Charles A. Yamarone
                                                             -------------------

Dated: April 22, 1996