In his column on the recent transaction between Continental Airlines and SAS {"Frank Lorenzo, Abuser in the Marketplace," op-ed, Aug. 14}, William F. Buckley uncharacteristically relies on a cursory and incomplete analysis of the airline industry to draw his conclusions. The result is an uniformed commentary that offers no contribution to our understanding of the market as it pertains to the airline industry.

What Mr. Buckley ignores is the whole issue of deregulation, which subjected a cozy and sheltered industry to the vagaries of the market and which imperiled established carriers that could not adjust to the new rules. Frank Lorenzo correctly understood the dynamics of the new market forces and saved carriers that faced a certain demise. For his efforts, he has been vilified by those who had thrived under the old rules and who refused to reconcile themselves with the new business realities.

As Mr. Buckley correctly asserts, Mr. Lorenzo's ''objective was to save a company and put it back on a solid footing.'' That is precisely what Mr. Lorenzo has done at Continental, which has grown under his leadership from 4,000 employees to 37,000 and which is now a dynamic global carrier. Mr. Lorenzo would have similarly succeeded at Eastern had the unions been willing to allow its members, and hence Eastern, to adjust to the new level of competition in the industry.

It is surprising that the erudite Mr. Buckley would ignore a principal tenant of capitalism: a company must adjust to its environment, or it will die.

ARTHUR KENT JR. Vice President, Corporate Communications Continental Airlines Houston