(Reuters) - United Continental Holdings Inc, formed from a 2010 merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines, said on Wednesday it received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate as a single carrier.
The FAA's award of a single operating certificate means the government recognizes United and Continental as one carrier, using the name "United Airlines".
The company, which continues to fly as two airlines while it integrates operations, said the step is a "regulatory milestone" and will not immediately affect customer dealings.
United said customers will continue to shop for flights and make other arrangements on each carrier's respective website until it fully blends passenger services in the first quarter of 2012.
To achieve the single operating certificate, United and Continental aligned operating policies and procedures. United bought Continental last year in a $3.17 billion all-stock deal to form United Continental, the world's largest airline company.
Reporting by Kyle Peterson, editing by Gerald E. McCormick