Creating the largest airline in the world, the merger of United and Continental will combine the United name with the Continental Blue Globe logo. The two carriers will be merged gradually over two years.
This is the latest gigantic merger, following the union of Delta and Northwest in 2009. Shortly after that merger Delta gutted the Cincinnati hub flights, once the second largest in the Delta network. Much of the shutdown in Cincinnati was the result of Delta trimming it’s regional jet operation there. The city of Cleveland aviation department has spent a lot of money to benefit the Continental regional jet hub at Hopkins airport, and fears it will also be cut back.
Looking at the entire system, how will the assorted hubs compliment and detract from each other? United has hubs at Chicago O’hare, Washington Dulles, Denver, and San Francisco while Continental has hubs in Houston, Cleveland, and Newark. Will this bring the disappearance of cheap tickets, and higher fares to travelers in these cities, or open new opportunities for discount carriers such as Southwest, which already serves most of them?
How their respective fleets merge, how many aircraft will be retired, and how new aircraft on order will be affected is unclear. Continental only operates Boeing aircraft, while United flies many Airbus A320s on domestic flights. Both use Boeing 777s on overseas routes. ]
United has been the leader in Hawaii flights for decades, while Continental operates an extensive network to Mexico and Central America from Houston.
Of the original legacy carriers, only four now remain, American, Delta, United and USAirways.