Though their merger was completed on October 1, 2010, it wasn’t until this morning that United and Continental became one operationally. Yesterday the FAA issued a single operating certificate for the merged company and later in the afternoon the final flight to use the Continental call sign, Continental 86 from Shanghai Pudong to Newark Liberty, reached the gate at 5:23 PM eastern standard time.
The two carriers’ reservations systems have yet to be integrated, and many United planes are in previous liveries, while a small number of former Continental aircraft are still wearing the old titles, but the SOC marks a major milestone in the integration of the two airlines.
For belly cargo, integration of operations began almost immediately after the merger and by earlier this year most of the services had been harmonized under the brands GEN (general freight service) and EXP (Express/guaranteed service), though there remain separate sales lines and websites and in some places co-located operations – for now.
United is aiming for an April 1, 2012 implementation of a new technology management system called United Cargo 360°. This is an entirely new piece of technology, rather than anything either carrier previously had in place, and once fully implemented will be the capstone on single unit operations.
In some other United operations, such as passenger reservations, the carrier is relying on the legacy systems of one prior carrier (in this case, the carrier will convert over to Continental’s existing reservations system, SHARES).
This United 777-200ER (N792UA, msn: 26934) is seen departing to Narita from Seattle in the carriers’ merged livery.
Photographer: Alex Kwanten