United, Continental create world’s biggest airline

The Board of Directors at Continental and United airlines approved a stock-swap deal that would combine them into the world’s largest airline on Sunday, May 2, 2010.

United Continental merge logo

The airlines publicly announced the deal the next day. The new airline will take on the United Airlines name and be based out of United’s hometown of Chicago.

It will be run by Continental’s CEO, Jeff Smisek. UAL’s CEO, Glenn Tilton, will be non-executive chairman.

The deal will still need final approval from labor unions, shareholders, and antitrust regulators before being allowed to go forward.

Both airlines are taking losses in the recession and expect the merger to generate savings of more than $1 billion a year. Combined, they fly to some 370 destinations and carry 144 million passengers a year. Combined revenues will be about $29 billion.

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