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Sat, Apr 26, 2008

United, Continental Said To Be Close To Merger Agreement

Deal May Be Announced Next Week

The airline industry's next mega-merger may soon be in the offing. The New York Times reports United Airlines and Continental Airlines are coming close to agreement on combining forces, and could announce the deal by the end of next week.

According to the ever-popular "unnamed sources," talks between the two airlines, which have been going on for months, are at an advanced stage... but not a done deal just yet. Officials reportedly want to announce the deal May 1.

One possible sign of an impending announcement is a new link on the Continental website, under the heading "Industry Consolidation Update." Clicking on the tab takes users to a dedicated page, "designed specifically to provide Continental’s perspective on airline industry consolidation."

Continental spokesman Dave Messing would only say the site went live April 15. United spokeswoman Jean Medina said the airline does not comment on "rumors or speculation."

For their part, investors aren't showing much enthusiasm about a possible United/Continental pairing, which would create an airline even larger than the proposed joining of Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines. On Friday, shares in both airlines continued their downward spirals, with United parent UAL falling 19 cents to $15.21, and Continental closing down 46 cents at $17.22. Shares in Delta and Northwest posted similar losses.

FMI: www.co-industryconsolidation.com, www.united.com

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