Continental Airlines Inc is cutting 600 reservation agent jobs, effective April 11, as customers increasingly book flights online.

Continental, which has 2,600 reservation agents, told its employees about the furloughs on Monday. The airline will not renew a third-party contract for handling calls.

The airline said an employee memo that it saw a 15 percent drop per year in call volume as customers book tickets on the Internet.

Houston-based Continental said it will offer an 'early-out' program to reservation employees who have worked at the carrier for 10 years. It will offer severance and outplacement services for employees affected by the cuts.

(Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman; editing by Andre Grenon)