United Risks Loss of Business Bookings

Airline’s third computer failure this year delays thousands of passengers.

United Continental Holdings Inc. risks losing more customers, especially business travelers, after flight delays ensnared thousands of passengers in the third computer failure this year at the world’s largest airline.

A software breakdown in United’s dispatching system disrupted service for about two hours and initially threw about 250 flights behind schedule, said Rahsaan Johnson, a spokesman. Delays cascaded from there to affect hundreds more planes while Chicago-based United restored regular operations.

CEO’s Pledge

Smisek, responding to a third-quarter drop in passengers amid a jump in late flights, promised analysts and investors on an Oct. 25 conference call that United would end its operational struggles and said, “We are now running a reliable airline again.”

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