Continental and United will merge creating the world’s largest airline with a global network serving 370 destinations around the world. The all-stock merger of equals brings together two major airlines well positioned to compete globally and in the U.S.
The new airline will be know as United Airlines and will serve as many as 144 million passengers per year flying to 370 destinations in 59 countries. Annual revenues of $29 billion are expected. The deal will close in the fourth quarter of this year.
Glenn Tilton, chairman, president and chief executive officer of UAL Corp., will serve as non-executive chairman of the combined company’s Board of Directors through December 31, 2012.
Jeff Smisek, Continental’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, will be chief executive officer and a member of the Board of Directors. He will also become executive chairman of the Board upon Tilton’s ceasing to be non-executive chairman.
In addition to Smisek and Tilton, the 16-member Board of Directors will include six independent directors from each of the two companies and two union directors required by United’s charter.
The holding company for the new entity will be named United Continental Holdings, Inc. and the name of the airline will be United Airlines. The marketing brand will be a combination of the brands of both companies. The new United will have an estimated 31 percent share of the market.
Aircraft will have the Continental livery, logo and colors with the United name, and the announcement campaign slogan will be “Let’s Fly Together.” The new company’s corporate and operational headquarters will be in Chicago with a significant presence in Houston.
“Building on our Star Alliance partnership, we are creating a stronger, more efficient airline, both operationally and financially, better positioned to succeed in a dynamic and highly competitive global aviation industry. This combination will provide a strong platform for sustainable, long-term value for shareholders, opportunities for employees, and more and better scheduled service and destinations for customers. Knowing and respecting our colleagues at Continental as we do, we are confident that together we can compete successfully in what is now, clearly, a global marketplace,” Tilton said.
Smisek said, “This combination brings together the best of both organizations and cultures to create a world-class airline with tremendous and enduring strengths. Together, we will have the financial strength necessary to make critical investments to continue to improve our products and services and to achieve and sustain profitability. We have forged a highly collaborative partnership with United over the past two years as we prepared for and executed a seamless transition to Star Alliance, an important achievement that gave us valuable experience in working together and built mutual respect between our two companies.”
The combined company will have 10 hubs, including hubs in the four largest cities in the United States, and will provide enhanced service to underserved small- and medium-sized communities. The combined carrier will continue to serve all the communities each carrier currently serves.
The merger is expected to deliver $1.0 billion to $1.2 billion in net annual synergies by 2013.
The merger, which has been approved unanimously by the Boards of Directors of both companies, is conditioned on approval by the shareholders of both companies and receipt of regulatory clearance.