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United Airlines Creates E-Commerce Unit

United Airlines Thursday launched an e-commerce subsidiary to boost travel product sales via the Net.

United, a unit of UAL Corp. (UAL) hopes the move will help them compete in the e-commerce sector through its management and staff resources, which are focused on e-commerce opportunities to inflate the company's online revenues.

Initially, 70 employees from United's marketing and technical departments will join a new e-commerce division. The new company will also create United's first online sales organization that will be charged with managing the carrier's many partnerships and relationships with new and existing online travel sites, as well as generating additional online revenues.

The new division will be led by Scott Praven, currently United's vice president of revenue management. In his 21-year career with United, Praven has held a variety of positions in the areas of brand management and product development, sales planning, interline marketing and pricing.

The subsidiary will be responsible for strategies in a number of key areas including:

  • United's Web site, launched in 1997
  • United's Internet partnership strategy -- the airline has entered into innovative relationships with sites such as star-alliance.com and collegetravelnetwork.com
  • Wireless technology: In May, United began offering customers real-time flight information through the use of the Palm Pilot VII hand-held device. Other customer-focused functionality is expected to be added by the end of the first quarter.

"The new team, made up of experienced professionals from United's e-commerce technology and business teams, will allow us to better serve the growing number of consumers who are taking advantage of new ways of buying travel" said Doug Hacker, United's executive vice president and chief financial officer.