Continental, United Begin Merger Talks

The merger rumors about United and Continental may have just gone from junior-high melodrama to the real deal, leaving US Airways out in the cold. The two airlines are reportedly beginning talks to join forces, according to The New York Times, although those familiar with the airlines caution things could still disintegrate. Remember, it was just last week that United and US Airways were seriously talking about a possible merger, and only two years ago that United and Continental were reportedly in discussions, so there's no telling if or when a merger will happen.

Most industry analysts agree that a merger with Continental would be in United's best interest: Continental's strong European and Latin American presence seem to complement United's Asian routes. A deal with US Airways, on the other hand, would probably require consolidating similar routes and numerous hubs.

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The experts aren't the only ones who would prefer Continental over US Airways. Our preliminary poll results have nearly 60 percent of voters rooting for Continental. Reader DavidAF says, "US Airways is a terrible airline. If they merged with United I would probably avoid United too." Uclafan writes, "I would love to see a Continental and United merger with Continental the major partner. They are definitely more consumer-oriented and would give me a better choice versus Delta. Then I can build my frequent flier miles between three airlines instead of four or five airlines. American being the third choice gives me one strong airline in each alliance to choose from." Rednecktraveller agrees, saying, "USAirways is toxic to any other airline, so if there HAS to be a merger, I'd want it to be United-Continental (which already have partially integrated their frequent-flyer programs)."

Taking both expert and reader preferences into account, it looks like Continental would be the right choice for United, but can they keep them on the hook?

Readers, what do you think? Would you prefer a Continental-United merger over a US Airways-United merger? Why or why not? Do you think these talks will even become more serious? Leave a message in the comments section below.

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