You may have come across the words “single operating certificate” and its acronym “SOC” in the news. This term directly relates to the merger of United and Continental and represents a major milestone along the way to becoming a combined airline. In a nutshell, SOC is the regulatory process of combining the two subsidiary air carrier certificates, for United and Continental, under one certificate.
A bit of history
To put things in context, on October 1, 2010, we received legal approval for the merger. Since then our two companies have continued to operate separately but under one holding company: United Continental Holdings, Inc.
With the merger in place, we immediately began to integrate our two airlines — including policies and procedures, technology systems and platform, airport branding and amenities, and other aspects of our operations. The entire integration process takes a total of 12 to 18 months, and during this time we have continued forward as two separate companies.
The SOC process
More than 500 United employees participated in the rigorous process to align operating policies and procedures from both United Airlines and Continental Airlines in order to obtain a single operating certificate from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which granted us the certificate on November 30, 2011.
We followed a set of specific steps to transition from two companies to one. This includes integrating a number of elements of both airlines, including:
Flight dispatch systems
The teams streamlined more than 440 operational manuals, programs and procedures down to approximately 260 manuals for the new United — a process that involved roughly 2,000 changes.
The SOC goes beyond our current status as a legally merged company; it signals that United and Continental are now legally able to operate as one airline. This means that the airline will have the flexibility to schedule planes and routes across the two carriers and the unified airline will operate with a single carrier code.
With that certificate in hand, we continue to transition to a set of common operating procedures, a single reservations system and one technology platform, which will occur late in the first quarter of 2012. In the meantime, you can continue to use united.com and continental.com to shop for flights, obtain seat assignments, check your flight status and more.