The Name Is Gone

Continental Airlines dies on a Sunday: United merger finalized under weekend cover

Continental Airlines dies on a Sunday: United merger finalized under weekend cover

Whether Houston loses a ton of jobs because of it or not — and the views on that are split — there's no doubt that an important piece of the Bayou City died today when Continental and United Airlines' respective boards approved the merger of the two airlines.

The resulting superpower stepchild — the biggest airline in the world — will call Chicago its world headquarters, making Houston just a hub (an important hub, but only a hub nonetheless). Even more symbolically damaging, the Continental name itself will be phased out in favor of United. One of the most recognizable brand names ever associated with Houston is making a slow, death march toward extinction.

The fact that it will take years to erase the Continental name will, in some ways, only make it harder.

Both Continental and United showed some typical corporate spinelessness by having this news come out on a Sunday. One of the first rules in PR is that when you want to minimize a story, you target it for a weekend leak, the closer to night time the better. Having their boards voting on the weekend shows that the leadership at both airlines understands that this is anything but a public-pleasing move.

Houston will never be quite the same after this — for better or for worse (and you'll have a hard time finding someone to argue the better tonight). Now, the question becomes where does the Bayou City go from here? What new companies do you see filling the high-profile gap in Houston's corporate identity over the next 10 years?

News-Continental Airlines-plane
The Continental name will be on the way off the sides of planes.