Continental official downplays merger prospects

AP News
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Posted: Dec 09, 2009 11:57 AM

A top Continental Airlines official is downplaying the benefits of airline mergers when carriers can instead form partnerships that let them work together on prices and schedules.

Treasurer Gerry Laderman says everyone in the industry is watching how well Delta absorbs Northwest, which it bought last year. Past mergers have been marked by labor unrest and other problems.

Continental decided last year not to combine with United Airlines. Instead it joined the Star Alliance of global airlines, including United, and won antitrust immunity to work with United on prices and schedules for flights outside the United States.

Laderman said when airlines can work together in alliances, "that provides a lot of benefit," while in mergers, "the best-laid plans sometimes run up against unforeseen problems."