United Airlines has started moving its operations center employees into a new home _ the Willis Tower in Chicago, formerly known as the Sears Tower.
United, which formally combined with Continental on Oct. 1 to form the world's largest airline, is moving the first 280 employees into the skyscraper on Monday. This is the first phase of the move of more than 2,500 people who currently work at the company's operations center in the suburb of Elk Grove Village.
United currently plans to occupy 12 floors at Willis Tower, three more floors than the company announced in August 2009.
After the move to Willis Tower is complete, United expects to employ more than 13,000 people in Chicago.
United expects to move more than 1,000 employees into Willis Tower by the end of the year. It projects that the rest of the moves will happen over the next 18 months. Eventually, Continental's operations center in Houston will close, with those functions moved to Willis Tower. The combined airline will be run from United's current headquarters in Chicago.
United and Continental are now both units of United Continental Holdings Inc., which will continue to run the airlines separately while it combines their operations.
Shares of the parent company slipped 40 cents to $26.04 Monday.