Continental and United in Merger Talks (and So Are Midwest & AirTran)

A long, long rumored merger between Continental and United is in the early stages, according to the NY Times.  Don’t expect an announcement tomorrow, but talks are under way to jam together Continental’s Eastern US, Latin and European routes with United’s Western US and Asian routes to form a massive carrier you’ll never get upgraded on.  When you look at the route maps, it certainly makes sense (though didn’t Continental just dump its Denver hub a few years ago?). 

AirTran has also proposed a buyout of Midwest Airlines (formerly Midwest Express — the airline with the warm cookies).  Midwest’s board has already turned down an offer, but AirTran’s execs say they’re willing to negotiate.  Their routemaps don’t really overlap at all, though their service is different (Midwest, on many of its routes, features all-business-class cabins.  I’m pretty sure you can kiss those goodbye.)

It seems like just yesterday that everyone swore airline mergers were a terrible idea (that was before US Airways and America West); now airline mergers are wonderful idea.  Whew – that changed quickly! 

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