United Airlines

a division of UAL Corp.

U.S. international airline.

It began as United Aircraft and Transport Corp., which first operated transcontinental passenger flights in 1929. It was the first airline to introduce stewardesses, in 1930. United Airlines, Inc., was established in Chicago in 1931 as a holding company for the corporation's four constituent airlines. United expanded rapidly after World War II and became the largest air carrier in the Western world when it merged with Capital Airlines in 1961. United acquired Pan American World Airways' transpacific routes in 1986 and its Latin American and Caribbean routes in 1991. The parent company took the name UAL Corp. in 1988. When United employees held a controlling share of the airline company (1994–2003), UAL was the largest employee-owned company in the U.S.

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▪ American corporation
      American international airline serving North America, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe. Headquarters for the air carrier's parent company, UAL Corp., are at Elk Grove Village, a suburb of Chicago, Ill.

      United Airlines dates to 1929, when William E. Boeing (1881–1956), Frederick B. Rentschler (1887–1956), and their associates founded United Aircraft Transport Corporation, a conglomerate of both aircraft manufacturing and air transport. By 1930 it had acquired four mail carriers—Boeing Air Transport (formed in 1927), Pacific Air Transport (1926), Varney Air Lines (1926), and National Air Transport (1925)—and in 1931 established United Airlines, Inc., in Chicago as a holding company providing an umbrella management for the four operating divisions. In 1934, under U.S. congressional pressure, aircraft conglomerates were forced to dissolve, separating the manufacture of aircraft from air transport. United Airlines, Inc., became an independent operating company, fully unifying all the transport divisions. (The Boeing and United Aircraft manufacturing companies also emerged from the dissolution.) William A. “Pat” Patterson (1899–1980), the new president, was the major influence on the company's progress until his retirement in 1966.

      From 1930 the company had a network of routes from New York City to San Francisco and Seattle, Wash., along with a number of north-south routes in the West; and in that year the company's (and the world's) first stewardesses were trained and put into service on the Chicago–San Francisco flights. Transcontinental flights from New York followed. After World War II, the expansion of United's routes and services was phenomenal. In 1961, upon its merger with Capital Airlines, United became the largest air carrier (in terms of number of passengers) in the Western world, exceeded globally only by the Soviet Union's Aeroflot (United retained that first rank for a couple of decades). In 1968–69 United Airlines reorganized itself, and in 1986 it acquired Pan American (Pan American World Airways, Inc.) World Airways' trans-Pacific routes (connecting the United States with East Asia and the South Pacific). In 1990 United Airlines acquired Pan American's routes between London and the United States, and in 1991 United bought the bankrupt Pan American's Latin American and Caribbean route systems.

      Following its reorganization in 1968–69, United also embarked on a number of corporate mergers. Its new parent and holding company, UAL, Inc., acquired the Western International (later Westin) Hotels (a large American hotel chain) in 1970, the Hertz Corporation (the largest car-rental business in the United States) in 1985, and Hilton International Co. (another large hotel chain) in early 1987. These businesses were sold off in late 1987, however, and henceforth the parent company concentrated on its major subsidiary, United Airlines, which remained one of the largest air carriers in the world. In 1994 United employees purchased a controlling (55 percent) share of the airline in return for $4.9 billion in wage and work-rule concessions. The buyout made United the largest employee-owned company in the United States. Despite federal assistance to United and many other U.S. airlines following the September 11th attacks in 2001, United filed for bankruptcy reorganization in December 2002. The firm emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2006.

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Universalium. 2010.

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