Two of the nation’s largest airlines, United and Continental have taken one step closer to joining forces to becoming the world’s largest carrier. Early last week, news in underground was that the two airlines were in high level talks to discuss merging operations. Things became more official with the announcement late last week that their respective boards had approved the undertaking.
The new airline, which would be called United Airlines, would have Continental’s CEO Jeff Smisek as the man in charge and would be based in Chicago. Continental’s livery would absorb United’s.
Despite the positive steps last week, several major milestones still need to be addressed before the merger gathers steam. Primarily, the airlines need to obtain regulatory approval from the government before joining forces, and in this political climate, that permission may be difficult to find.
Issues with unions, operations and finances will also take time and patience to address; as a result, even if an official announcement comes on Monday there are months left of negotiation and heartache. Get ready for a long ride.