In a letter to employees, president and CEO of Continental Airlines, Jeff Smisek, outlined three stages to the expected merger between United and Continental along with when these stages would occur. Assuming they receive regulatory and stockholder approval, the legal merger is expected to take place in the fourth quarter of 2010. When the two companies legally merge, they will become subsidiaries of a holding company called United Continental Holdings, Inc. but will continue to operate as separate airlines.
The second stage, “Customer Day One”, won’t happen until sometime in the spring 2011. This stage will launch once the two airlines’ reservation systems, kiosks, Web sites and frequent flyer systems are prepared to handle both United and Continental passengers. At this time, “our frequent flyer systems will need to offer upgrade, credit and redemption opportunities.” The third and final stage is when the two carriers receive a single operating certificate from the FAA and operate as a single carrier.