Airlines are calling the current financial environment one of the worst in industry history, but that is not to say there are no green shoots for aircraft makers. Continental ( CAL) says it remains enthusiastic about the pending delivery of 787s it has ordered, whenever they come, while United ( UAUA) is contemplating an aircraft order that would be placed by the end of the year. United has said it is talking with both Boeing ( BA) and Airbus. Speaking of Continental's order for 25 Dreamliners during an earnings conference call on Tuesday, CEO Larry Kellner said: "Fuel prices while down are still higher than in 2004, when we ordered (the 787). It's a very efficient aircraft (and) we have a lot of international growth opportunities out of Newark and Houston." Kellner said Continental expects to start to take delivery in 2011, but "clearly we're waiting for Boeing to update its schedule." American ( AMR) and Northwest, which is now part of Delta ( DAL), have also ordered the 787. Northwest would be the first U.S. airline to operate it. Meanwhile, on the United earnings call, CEO Glenn Tilton said the carrier is investigating an aircraft order as "a strategic consideration with a forward-looking agenda" and has been "very pleased with the responsiveness" of the manufacturers. CFO Kathryn Mikells added: "Challenging times like we're operating in today present issues we need to face today, but also opportunities. From a timing perspective, we're looking to make a decision before the end of the year, committing to a long-term fleet replacement strategy. The aircraft would not come for some number of years into the future."