Continental: United Will Only Divide Us

Continental Airlines gets all the credit in the world for their announcement yesterday that they will not continue their merger talks with United Airlines, instead they will persue some sort of vague alliance involving American Airlines and British Airways.  Until that’s a done deal, it’s not really worth speculating about (you can find that elsewhere), but just know that an alliance is a much better call than a merger.

Unlike the bullshit-filled nonsense that Delta & Northwest emailed out when they announced their link-up, Continental sent out a note that may or may not have been bullshit but had one of the most insightful sentences I’ve seen written by an airline exec:  “We have significant cultural, operational and financial strengths compared to the rest of the industry, and we want to protect and enhance those strengths — which we believe would be placed at risk in a merger with another carrier in today’s environment. ”  Imagine that – in this environment, an airline executive talking about all the great things about their airline, and how those things need to be protected.  Crazy.

In the meantime, United and US Airways may end up back together and the success of that merger will rest in large part on who is going to run the combined operation (hint: let’s hope they’re in Phoenix).  The two airlines have a past history together, which should alleviate some of the pains of combining the carriers.  We’ll see…


  1. This is a win for everybody — except maybe UA shareholders, who probably would have gotten a small premium in a merger deal with CO.

    It’s hard to pass up the “best network in the world,” but I think it was the right call for CO. They are really a well run company. Fixing and integrating UA would have taken years, and the cohesiveness of CO would have been lost.

    Meanwhile, it seems almost a certainty that UA and US will merge, and Doug Parker will take the reigns. Being the CEO of the world’s largest airline seems to have been his ambition in life and dreams sometimes do come true. Here’s a guy who started with next to nothing in the airline biz (CEO of struggling America West) and look at him now. And he’s got the right instincts to make this work. It ain’t gonna be pretty, it ain’t gonna be easy, and it ain’t gonna be Continental, but he’ll do it.

    So I guess this makes the other potential loser here the city of Tempe, because I think Parker and his team are going to have to decamp to Chicago.