The delivery of its first Boeing 787 in August widens the scope for new routes, such as the recently announced Houston-Auckland, according to an airline chief at Continental.
Nick Britton, director of corporate communications for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said the airline had had to postpone the announcement of the new Houston-Auckland route, now due to start in November 2011, as the delivery of the B787 was delayed until August next year.
"Originally we hoped to get the aircraft in the Spring of 2009. Along with everybody else we have had to wait a bit longer," he said.
He said the delay had been a disappointment.
"We obviously hoped we would be able to do some of the things that we are now talking about a bit earlier," said Britton.
"A route like Houston-Auckland particularly is not possible with any other aircraft. Therefore it shows the new opportunities having a 787 gives."
Continental will also launch its first Africa route in November 2011. The airline will use a B787 to fly between Houston, Texas, and Lagos, Nigeria.
The entry into the African market represents an "exciting start" said Britton.
"The Nigeria-Houston route in particular - as you'd expect there's a lot of energy and oil related traffic between those two cities - and this new service will be at least four hours faster than any current service.
"We're very optimistic about it. But beyond that, who knows. There are obviously other opportunities."
Continental has not ordered any A380s.
"I have enormous respect for the A380 as a technological achievement, but for our network we always felt that the 787 was the way to go," explained Britton, "because our core market is looking for a higher frequency of service, from hubs to small cities, rather than the hub to hub type of service with connecting flights that the A380 is built for.
"It's a smaller aircraft and it has a greater range capability, so it allows us to introduce non-stop services on routes that until now it's not been possible to do."