AMERICAS: UA & Continental could be next

United Airlines and Continental are in advanced negotiations and could complete a merger quickly if Delta and Northwest strike a deal, according to US press reports. Such a deal is expected to trigger more consolidation in the highly competitive airline industry as rivals try to match or out-size Delta-Northwest, which would become the world’s largest […]


United Airlines and Continental are in advanced negotiations and could complete a merger quickly if Delta and Northwest strike a deal, according to US press reports.

Such a deal is expected to trigger more consolidation in the highly competitive airline industry as rivals try to match or out-size Delta-Northwest, which would become the world’s largest airline.

United, owned by UAL Corp., and Continental must wait for the Delta-Northwest talks to run their course because Northwest can block any deal involving Continental. Th at veto power is a vestige of Northwest’s one-time stake in Continental.

The Chicago Tribune reported that United hasn’t ruled out bidding for Delta if Delta can’t close the deal with Northwest. Th at would give Chicago-based United the ability to play Northwest and Houston-based Continental off each other in a search for the best possible deal.

The paper also reported that Continental Chief Executive Lawrence Kellner would run the combined company and that its headquarters location would be settled later.