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Continental and United Airlines Merger

Continues to Move Forward


Steering committee and transition agreement mark latest advancements


Houston Airport System
August 1, 2010



© Houston Airport System
Continental's Jeff Smisek and United's Glenn Tilton are leading their respective airlines through the merger process.

Continental and United airlines executives have recently taken two key steps in their march toward an eventual merger.

In mid-July 2010, representatives from the two airlines gathered in downtown Houston to hold their first merger integration steering committee meeting.

The committee includes executives from both Continental and United’s leadership teams, and is expected to meet every two weeks until the merger is completed, presumably by the end of 2010.

If the deal is eventually finalized, the merger would create the world’s largest airline, and Houston Airport System director Mario Diaz says that could result in some amazing opportunities for the Houston market.

“Houston is poised to become a premiere gateway into Latin America,” Diaz says. “Because in addition to the traffic that Continental Airlines now moves through Houston into the Caribbean, Central and South America and Mexico, you now have the potential for passengers from United Airlines to follow that same pathway, which would significantly increase the number of passengers moving through Houston.”

Officials from the two companies have already indicated that United Airlines will be the name used once the merger is completed, while the fleet of aircraft will feature the familiar color scheme and livery of the Continental brand.

Another significant step toward a final partnership was taken in July, when the two airlines reached transition agreements with their respective pilots’ unions.

The accord means that the two merging airlines can now begin talks on a new joint collective bargaining agreement, that’s critical to winning pilot support for the overall merger.

“We are pleased to have reached this important agreement at such an early stage of the integration planning process, as it is a key first step in building a long-term, productive relationship between the combined company and our pilots,” said Jeff Smisek, Continental’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. “We will continue to focus on working together with all of our work groups to reach agreements that are fair to our employees and fair to the company.”

In 2009, Continental and United collectively handled 86.9 percent of the air travelers at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). United will join Continental Airlines in operating out of Terminal C at IAH, as of August 16, 2010.

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