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This 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.
"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."
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.
Effective today, air traffic control communications will refer 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.