Continental Airlines and United Airlines reportedly agreed to merge in a stock swap deal, valued at more than USD3 billion, to create the world’s largest carrier carrying 21% of all US air passengers (Bloomberg/Houston Business Journal/Denver Business Journal, 02-May-2010). United is expected to swap 1.05 shares for each Continental share. The combined carrier would be based in Chicago with Continental CEO, Jeff Smisek, as CEO and United’s Glenn Tilton as Chairman. The carrier would operate under the United Airlines brand. Most of the merger groundwork was already in place from previous merger discussions in 2008 which Continental walked away from in favour of joining the Star Alliance (Reuters, 15-Apr-2010). United was previously in merger talks with US Airways until 23-Apr-2010.
Continental Airlines and United Airlines merge in USD3bn stock swap deal
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Copa Holdings believes a recovery in demand will support marked rise in 2017 capacity growth
Panama’s Copa Airlines is planning markedly increased capacity year-on-year in 2017 as demand patterns in Latin America continue to build on strength that began to emerge in 2H2016. That followed two years of economic contraction in the region. Most of Copa’s growth in 2017 stems from higher utilisation, given that its fleet is expanding by just a single aircraft during the year. The airline also plans to add back, in the lower season, the capacity that it cut in 2016 to adjust to Latin America’s weakened supply demand scenario.
Copa’s outlook is based on its determination that demand is holding steady in Latin America, and it is joining other airlines in the region in expanding capacity as a slow economic recovery begins to take effect. Its approach, that there is strengthening demand, stretches broadly across its network, even in Brazil, whose deep economic recession drove Latin America’s overall two year long economic contraction.
Copa has no concerns about its fellow Star Alliance partners Avianca and United potentially deepening their partnership through a proposed equity stake by United in Avianca. Although Copa has not publicly confirmed that it courted Avianca during its evaluation process for a strategic partner, the airline now believes United is the best partner for Avianca.
Avianca Holdings: United Air partnership and Synergy infusion raise more questions than answers
Avianca Holdings and United have taken a strategic step to bolster their respective competitiveness in the Latin American and US markets, by working to deepen their partnership. United is the only US airline without a prospective joint venture partner in the region, and Avianca needs an anchor partner such as United to broaden its network coverage in North America.
The scope that Avianca and United’s deepened partnership will encompass remains unknown. Since mid 2016 Avianca has been searching for a strategic investor, and reportedly drew interest from Delta Air Lines and Copa Holdings before settling on United.
At the same time Avianca outlined plans to develop a strategic partnership with United, Avianca’s majority shareholder Synergy pledged to invest USD200 million into the company, which could signal that Synergy remains committed to having sizeable influence over Avianca.
Synergy also plans to obtain necessary regulatory approvals to fold Avianca Brasil into Avianca Holdings. Synergy is the major shareholder of both airlines, but the companies have been run separately for years. The timing is curious, since United also has a minority stake in the Brazilian airline Azul. Synergy’s moves raise questions about United and Azul’s future partnership, as well as the level of ownership United could take in Avianca Holdings.