Earlier today, somehow the Chicago Tribune accidentally resubmitted an old story about United Airlines going bankrupt to the Bloomberg news wires.

That didn’t go over very well.

Everyone thought the news was a big scoop and sold the crap out of the airline’s stock.

As you can see from the chart above, the stock price (UAUA) dropped 99.92% before trading was quickly halted to address the ‘false rumor’.

United officials got on the horn with CNBC right away and made this announcement:

“Reports that the company filed for bankruptcy are completely untrue and were caused by the irresponsible posting of a 6-year-old Chicago Tribune article by the Florida Sun Sentinel newspaper website with the date changed.”

The republished story was related to United’s 2002 bankruptcy filing. United exited bankruptcy in February 2006.

After the stock started trading again, things look like they are getting back to normal. All I have to say is that now is probably the best time ever for United to make the ‘real’ announcement that they are bankrupt again (if there is one). No one will be expecting it now! Perfect timing!

Update: Looks like Chicago Tribune is trying to pawn off this big mess on the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and a Miami-based investment advisory firm. I don’t know if I can believe any of these guys anymore.

Chicago Tribune: United stock plunges as old story resurfaces on web, September 8, 2008

Clusterstock: Chicago Tribune crushes United Airlines with incorrect ‘bankruptcy’ story, September 8, 2008

CNBC: UAL Shares Slammed By False Bankruptcy Rumor, September 8, 2008

Yahoo: UAUA stock chart, September 8, 2008 2:00 PM EST