United Continental Holdings (formerly UAL Corporation) unites cities around the globe through subsidiaries United Air Lines and Continental, titans among passenger and cargo air carriers. While United Air Lines and Continental are its main lines, the company also has regional operations, which are operated under contract by United Express, Continental Express, and Continental Connection. Combined, the company handles more than 5,600 flights a day to more than 370 domestic and international destinations from hubs that include Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. UAL Corporation changed its name to United Continental Holdings following a merger deal in 2010.
A subsidiary of UAL Corporation merged with and into Continental in October 2010, with Continental surviving as a wholly-owned subsidiary of UAL. Upon closing of the merger, UAL became the parent company of both Continental and United Air Lines and UAL Corporation's name was changed to United Continental Holdings. The transactions created the world's largest airline. United Air Lines and Continental operate more than 600 aircraft each, including aircraft operated by regional carriers on their behalf.
United Continental keeps its corporate and operational headquarters in Chicago, the United name, as well as Continental's logo. Its largest hub remains in Houston. Main line subsidiaries United Air Lines and Continental received FAA approval of a single operating certificate in late 2011, but they are still working to combine operations and migrate over to a single reservation system. The carriers are working to align airport processes, customer service, inventory management systems, marketing activities, pricing, and revenue management systems.
Revenue soared 59% in 2011 compared with 2010. After recording a net loss of $651 million in 2009 United Continental enjoyed a net income of $253 million in 2010 and then a surge to $840 million in 2011. Despite these good results, the company is susceptible to volatility in fuel prices, its single largest operating expense.
United Continental Holdings has ordered a number of fuel-efficient Airbus and Boeing aircraft to replace the older fleet. In 2012 United Air Lines is expected to be the first North American carrier to take delivery of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. It will be the first of 50 Dreamliners for United Continental. The 787, anticipated to be "a game changer" for the company and for the airline industry, will allow both United Air Lines and Continental to enter new long-haul markets and to replace older, less efficient widebody aircraft.
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