The Most Comprehensive Global Route Network

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The combined United Continental Holdings competes on the basis of having what it terms "the most comprehensive global route network", modern planes, and "an industry-leading loyalty program" (UnitedContinentalHoldings.com, 2012). The merger between two struggling airlines was announced in 2010, and the United brand is going to be the one that is most prominent going forward. There have recently been some minor implementation problems in unwinding the Continental name (Martin, 2012). While it is difficult, to some extent, to evaluate the success of a merger that is only just now entering its final implementation phases, it is known that the objective of that merger was to use the larger route network to attract more business, and that the combined airline would also extract cost savings as the result of increased operational efficiency. The airline had struggled in 2009, with its sales declining, but it recovered in 2010 and 2011. Sales last year were $33.678 billion, up from $21.068 billion the year before. In the past two years, the company has turned a profit, going from $253 million in net income in FY2010 to $840 million in net income in FY2011. Some of this improvement may stem from the impact of the merger. However, the airline industry is highly cyclical, and the past two years have represented economic improvement. Likewise, the losses the company faced in FY2008 and FY2009 were as much the result of the economic downturn as they were internal business factors.

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