As Continental and United continue preparations for their merger, the two carriers have decided to keep Continental's air carrier operating certificate and United's repair station certificate as they begin efforts to obtain a single operating certificate from the FAA.
Employee communications about the plans were filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on 1 September.
Both airlines have a Part 121 air carrier operating certificate and a Part 145 repair operating certificate, and Continental subsidiary Continental Micronesia has its own air carrier operating certificate.
Michael Quiello, United's vice president of corporate safety, security, quality and environment wrote in a letter to employees that the "Continental operating certificate was selected because of its enhanced technology authorisations and close conformity to standard FAA language. United's repair station certificate enables increased maintenance capabilities, enhanced repair station authorisations and greater maintenance volume."
Before United and Continental combine operating certificates, Continental Micronesia's operating certificate will be combined with Continental's. Quiello says that this step will allow the two airlines "to avoid delaying the larger, more complicated integration of the United and Continental operations and will simplify some of the later integration steps".
The two airlines will submit a transition plan to the FAA later this month. Quiello explains the plan "will allow us to begin to harmonise thousands of technical and operations programmes currently in effect at both airlines" if it is approved. Quiello says the process is expected to take more than a year and that "certain processes and procedures may remain separate or parallel and partitioned" for some time after the carrier obtains a single operating certificate, "pending final integration".
A message sent to Continental employees explains that integration efforts are expected to start in the months following the closing of the merger transaction, which is scheduled for 1 October.
Last week, the US Department of Justice approved the merger after completing an anti-trust review. Shareholders of both airlines will vote on the merger later this month.