World's Largest Airline in the Works

May 3 2010, 11:15 AM

If federal regulators approve and unions don't stand in the way, United Airlines and Continental Airlines will join in a $3 billion merger to create the world's biggest airline---a "coast-to-coast American behemoth," as The New York Times notes, "with a leading presence in the top domestic markets, including New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, along with an extended network to Asia, Latin America, and Europe." The airline will retain the United name and will sport a new design, with Continental's blue-and-gold globe on the tail fin. United is the largest carrier in Denver, and from early news reports, it was too early to say whether the deal will be good for the city. Generally, mergers mean prices could rise and jobs could be lost, as a single corporation seeks savings and higher profitability by combining operations. In that vein, Continental pilots have issued a statement this morning: "We look for a commitment by the management of the new United Airlines to work with pilot leadership to minimize economic risk and maximize our career security by promptly and fairly negotiating a new, joint pilot contract" (via MarketWatch). The two airlines have a long history in Denver, according to The Denver Post, including at the old Stapleton International Airport in 1992, when the two held a combined 78 percent of the local market. Darryl Jenkins, an airline industry consultant, says the United-Continental combination would likely surpass Delta Airlines among travelers who value convenient schedules and choices of destinations. "Mergers are all about revenue, and this is a tremendous boost for revenue," he tells The Associated Press