The History Of United Airlines

United Airlines, Inc. is a major airline of the United States. It is a subsidiary of UAL Corporation with corporate offices in Chicago. United Airline’s largest hub is O’Hare International Airport where it provides more than 550 departures daily. United Airlines also has hubs in Washington Dulles International Airport, Denver International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, and San Francisco International Airport. As well, United Airlines largest maintenance hub is the Maintenance Operations Center at San Francisco International Airport.

As an airline that dominated airline travel industry for most of the 20th century, United Airlines was one of the “Big Four” airlines in the United States. It still remains one of the major U.S. airlines. Originally, the airline was formed by United Aircraft and Transport Corporation, a partnership between Boeing Airplane Company and Pratt & Whitney. On March 28, 1931, UATC formed the corporation United Air Lines, Inc. to operate its airline subsidiaries. In June 1933, United began flying from coast to coast. Within four months, the airline was operating as many as 11 round trips daily between New York and Chicago.

During World War II United Airlines served the war effort. In May 1942, the airline began service to Alaska and across the Pacific Ocean. During the war, United carried nearly 200,000 tons of men and materials over 21 million miles. Bill Patterson was president from 1933 to 1963. He remained chairman of the airline until 1966. On November 1, 1955, United Airlines Flight 629, which was flying from Stapleton Airport in Denver to Portland, Oregon, was bombed. Everyone on board was killed. The bomb was planted by Jack Graham who placed the device in his mother’s luggage as he had planned to collect her life insurance policy. Graham was arrested, tried, and was executed a year after the explosion. On June 1, 1961, United merged with Capital Airlines making it the world’s largest commercial airline and it now had a route network covering the entire United States.

The Deregulation Act of 1978 had a significant impact on the Airline. It had to cut back on its operations that were not that profitable. At the same time, United expanded into other areas such as hotel chains, computerized reservation systems, and rental car companies. The Airline entered new markets in the Australia, Pacific, and Europe using a fleet of Boeing 747-400 jumbo jets. On December 23, 1973, then President Richard Nixon flew as a passenger aboard a United DC-10 flight from Washington Dulles to Los Angeles. United Airlines was the strongest domestic airline in the United States through the 1970s.

In 1985, United agreed to purchase Pan American World Airways’ complete Pacific Division Boeing 747SPs and L-1011-500s for $750 million. By the end of 1986, United operated flights to 13 Pacific destinations. In 1991, United bought Pan Am’s Heathrow Airport hub in London after Pan Am failed. In addition, United Airlines acquired Pan Am’s Latin American routes that year. It became one of the most important international airlines in North America.

By 1992, fuel costs, interest rates, and a recession forced United to sell some its travel subsidiaries and cancel orders for new aircraft. On June 7, 1995, United was the first airline to introduce Boeing’s new 777 airliner, with a flight from Washington, D.C. to London. In 1997, the airline partnered itself with Air Canada, Germany’s Lufthansa, and the Scandinavian Aircraft System (SAS) to create the Star Alliance to provide a common network of world-spanning routes. In the late 1990s profits began to diminish due to an economic recession in Asia.

On September 11th 2001, United’s Flight 175 was flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, causing 65 fatalities on board and over 600 in the South Tower. Flight 93 was also hijacked during the September 11attacks and crashed in a field in Stonycreek Township, in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, after passengers assaulted the terrorists who hijacked the plane On December 9th, 2002, United Airlines filed for Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy protection in Chicago. It was the largest bankruptcy filing by an airline.

On October 6th, 2005, United signs off on a $3 billion loan from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. enabling it to exit bankruptcy. Since 2005, United has taken cost cutting measures by cutting nearly 3 percent of its 55,000 workers worldwide, removing an 70 airplanes from its fleet, and cutting domestic capacity. In late July, 2006, United was the fourth largest airline by total passengers transported. As of late December, 2009, United has about 47,000 employees, providing services to 1,071 destinations in 171 countries worldwide.

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