Continental and United form ‘mega-carrier’

Continental and United Airlines have announced plans to merge, the carriers announced Monday, creating the world’s largest airline by revenue and the largest combination cargo carrier among passenger airlines in North America.

Top US cargo carrier
The merger also would leap-frog United-Continental into the top spot among US passenger airlines in termsof cargo and mail traffic. United and Continental had a combined US$902million in cargo revenue in 2009, but thatfigure was down about a third from 2008.United, the third-largest cargo carrieramong the passenger airlines last year,saw its cargo revenue fall 37.2 per centfrom 2008 to $536 million.

Delta was the top cargo carrier, with $788 million in revenue in 2009, but the Atlanta-based carrier also is grounding the 747 freighters that Northwest used to operate on trans-Pacific lanes and will focus now only on belly freight.

Combined, United and Continental have 21 per cent of domestic passenger capacity through 10 US hubs, compared to Delta’s 20 per cent. Globally, the merged companies would have a seven per cent market share and serve more than 144million passengers in 59 countries.

“The combination of United and Continental brings together the two most complementary networks of any US carriers, with minimal domestic and no international route overlaps. The combined company will offer enhanced service to Asia, Europe, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East from wellplaced hubs on the East Coast, West Coast, and Southern and Midwestern regions of the United States,” the carriers said in a joint statement.