Continental Airlines Inc said on Friday that it had made temporary cuts to its seat capacity to Mexico, citing lower demand as a new strain of flu spreads.

In a statement, the carrier said it would cut capacity to Mexico, as measured by available seat miles, by about 50 percent from its original May flight schedule, effective on Monday.

It added that it would reduce flight departures by about 40 percent.

The carrier said the reductions amount to about 2 percent of its systemwide available seat miles for May, compared with its original schedule for the month.

Continental said it was using smaller aircraft on flights to Mexico or reducing the frequency of flights to destinations. Prior to these reductions, Continental said it operated an average of 450 weekly flights to the country.

Mexico has reported at least 176 deaths from a new strain of Influenza A (H1N1).

(Reporting by Karen Jacobs; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)