New Leadership At Continental May Lead To Possible Merger
With the recently-announced resignation of Continental CEO Larry
Kellner, some are speculating that Continental and United may again
look at merging when Jeff Smisek takes over the reins of
Continental next year.
Kellner had resisted a merger with United, a move some say was
his most important business decision. Reuters reports that the two
airlines had been in merger talks, but concerns over the long-term
health of United led Continental to break off negotiations in April
of 2008. But the talks did lead to Continental joining the Star
Alliance, in which United is also a partner.
Industry analysts continue to say Keller did the right thing by
not merging with United. While Justin Buchman noted in Business
Week that United would have given Continental access to Asian
markets it does not currently serve as well as the western U.S.,
industry consultant Darryl Jenkins told the Associated Press that
Continental has a "much better" product, and integration would have
USA Today says other analysts see the a merger as at least a
possibility. Hunter Keay, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus, told the
paper that while the new alliance between Continental and United
means they are, in all reality, merging their networks over the
next few months, any formal merger between the two would most
likely be "years away."