United Airlines' CEO said filing for bankruptcy was the only way to keep the airline flying after two years of heavy losses.
Speaking to employees on a company hotline Monday, Glenn Tilton said the airline's flights will continue in the U.S. and around the world.
United filed for Chapter Eleven bankruptcy protection in a federal court in Chicago early Monday.
It's the largest bankruptcy filing in aviation history and is one of the top ten overall, when measured by assets.
Tilton said the filing will allow United to secure its long-term future and maintain its position as a major player in the industry.
United is reeling from two years of big losses, and has been unable to pay off nearly $1 billion in debt that comes due this week.
Tilton said he expects the bankruptcy process to be completed within 18 months.