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United and Continental Celebrate
Latest Milestone


December 1, 2011

© Houston Airport System
United Airlines and Continental Airlines are now operating under a single operating certificate.
United Continental Holdings, Inc. announced on November 30 that it had received Federal Aviation Administration approval for a single operating certificate, marking another significant achievement in the integration of United Airlines and Continental Airlines.

The regulatory milestone, while significant from an operational policies and procedures perspective, does not change how customers interact with the airline.

Customers of United and Continental will continue to shop for flights, obtain seat assignments and check flight status on each carrier’s respective website until the company migrates to a single passenger service system in the first quarter of 2012.  At that point, from a customer's perspective, the two carriers will function as one airline.

“United Airlines has made it clear that Houston will play a large role in its future growth plans,” says Ian Wadsworth, chief commercial officer with the Houston Airport System. “So an important milestone like this is exciting for us as well, since we’re now the largest hub for the world’s largest airline.”

The two carriers went through a rigorous 18-month process of aligning operating policies and procedures to obtain a single operating certificate from the FAA. A team of more than 500 employees from both carriers worked together to evaluate closely each pre-integration program, process and operating specification from both airlines to determine the best choice for the new United.

The team streamlined more than 440 operational manuals, programs and procedures down to approximately 260 manuals for the new United – a process that involved roughly 2,000 changes.

“I would like to thank the teams at United, Continental, the FAA, the Department of Transportation and the many regulatory authorities around the globe who put tremendous time and effort into our achieving a single operating certificate,” said United’s president and chief executive officer, Jeff Smisek. “While we have much work ahead of us as we integrate these two great carriers, this is a significant milestone.”

With the certificate in place, air traffic control communications are now referring to all United and Continental flights as “United.” United and Continental announced their merger in May 2010 and closed the transaction on Oct. 1, 2010.
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