Posts Tagged 'continental airlines'

United And Continental Announce Merger

After a long period of speculation, that included reported merger talks between US airlines in practically all combinations, it became official today: United Airlines and Continental Airlines are merging to form the world’s Largest Airline Company in a “Merger of Equals”.

Following the mega-merger of Delta Airlines and Northwest Airlines announced practically two years ago, the third and fourth largest US airlines are merging to form not only the largest in the US, but also in the world. They will remain in the Star Alliance, under the name “United”, but will keep the Continental logo and airplane liveries.

The two airlines together will operate a very extensive domestic US network and a very advanced international network – where currently they operate no overlapping routes, with a fleet of 692 aircraft! Connecting 370 destinations in 59 countries the more than 144 million passengers will have access to the widest global network of any carrier, which combined with the benefits of the Star Alliance will provide a true Global reach, with emphases on the 91 million (!) frequent flier members. With 10 hubs (Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Houston, San Francisco, Washington DC, Denver, Cleveland, Guam and Tokyo), the combined United Airlines will be at home in the four largest US cities.

Interestingly, United and Continental were first reported to be in talks at the time of the Delta-Northwest announcement, but the merger rumours about United Airlines merging with US Airways were stronger recently, played down only early last week. The news about a possible tie-up with Continental got stronger (again) towards the second half of the week – but this merger had surely been in the pipeline for some time, as they even have developed a special website only dedicated to the merger:

In a presentation targeted at investors, the new company announced that it will be headquartered in Chicago, “maintaining significant presence in Houston” as well, with the CEO having offices at both locations. On a pro forma basis, the combined company would have annual revenues of approximately $29 billion based on 2009 financial results and ownership will be: 55% United shareholders and 45% Continental shareholders. The holding company for the new entity will be named United Continental Holdings, Inc.  The proposed transaction is expected to generate approximately $200 million to $300 million in annual net cost savings by 2013. The two companies currently employ 87.529 (46.602 (United) + 40.927 (Continental)) people.

Talking about employees, the two airlines’ pilot unions released a joint statement observing that “history has demonstrated that the integration of two airlines is always a difficult challenge. The support of the pilots is pivotal in determining whether a merger is successful or not, as will be the case with this merger…

Of course the merger is subject to approval by shareholders and anti-trust regulations, but will most probably be completed according to plan before the end 2010 (by Q4 this year), with the single operating certificate targeted for the first half of 2012. (It took Delta Airlines to reach that goal by the end of 2010 and to retire the Northwest brand – thus United plans to work with similar timelines).

Looks like if American Airlines wants to stay in the game, it is now left with only one potential partner of significant size: US Airways. Will that be an acquisition type of merger like Delta, or a merger of equals like United and Continental, we’ll see, but it looks like the only logical step to be taken.

by balint01


Top 5 Airlines in 2008

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has published its latest ranking of the world’s airlines in terms of passengers carried and passenger kilometres flown on scheduled flights for the year 2008.

International and Domestic – Number of passengers

Based on number of passengers carried on scheduled flights in 2008 and considering International as well as Domestic traffic, US and Chinese companies seem to rule the world with Southwest Airlines taking number one. However, if we would count Delta and Northwest as one entity (they merged in 2008), they would claim the number one spot (seen in line 0 in the table below). It should be noticed that the fifth position in terms of passengers carried has been taken by a Chinese air company (China Southern Airlines) – which also signals the ongoing growth of the Chinese domestic air travel market.

Top5 Airlines in 2008 in terms of Passengers on Domestic And International flights

International – Number of passengers

Looking at only International scheduled traffic in 2008 (excluding domestic), Ryanair has grown to be the largest International airline in the world. Mostly European airlines are included in this bucket, as most of their flights are international, even though the distances flown would in most cases match up with the US (or Chinese) Domestic flights. This just shows how strong the US airlines are on their domestic market and how weak they are on the international routes – in terms of number of passengers. It is interesting to note that Air France and KLM are a merged company since 2004, but operate their separate networks. Also interesting to see that 2 of the top 5 are low-cost carriers (Ryanair and easyJet). If we would consider European international flights as domestic (in terms of distance intra-European flights are similar in nature to the domestic flights within the US or China), none of the European airlines would make it in the top 5 – based on the number of passengers flown, even though Ryanair comes very close to fifth position China Southern.

2008 Top 5 Airlines (number of Passengers on International travel)

International and Domestic – Passenger kilometres

When looking at passenger kilometres flown, it gives a slightly different view of the same results. Such a statistic shows us all airlines in terms of passenger kilometres flown (passengers*kilometers flown) and theoretically levels out the difference between the European International flights and the US Domestic flights for example – which produce similar numbers in terms of passenger kilometres. On the other hand, this gives a chance for airlines flying mostly longer routes with less passengers to move up the list. (E.g.: a Budapest-London flight is 1 passenger or rougly 1500 passenger kilometres, while a Paris-Rio de Janeiro flight is also counted as 1 passenger, but rougly 9400 passenger kilometres.)

Top 5 Airlines in 2008 - in terms of passenger kilometres for Domestic and International flights

It is interesting to see that this view is still ruled by the US airlines, and the only non-US in the list is the merged Air France – KLM group, taking the fourth position. We are missing Southwest Airlines from this table, as they do not fly long-haul and fly only a limited number of mid-haul international flights to Central America thus their average kilometers flown per passenger is much lower than those big American airlines that also fly long-haul routes. It is also a notable change that American Airlines (considered to be the largest airline company for years) is passed by the new Delta Airlines (merged with Northwest) by as much as 35%.

It will be interesting to see these numbers for 2009 in a few months – where Delta will most likely hold the number one spot for overall passenger numbers as well as passenger kilometers, but Lufthansa may move up a little bit if they start to publish their numbers together with Brussels Airlines and Austrian Airlines. We are also looking forward to the much talked about possible British Airways – Iberia tie up, which would produce an Air France – KLM like congolmerate that could fight for a top 5 position in terms of worldwide passenger kilometers – considering Iberia’s long flights between Europe and South America.

by balint01

Plane Slides Off Runway in Denver

Continental Airlines flight 1404 scheduled to fly from Denver, Colorado to Houston, Texas on 20 December, 2008 slid off the runway at Denver International Airport at around 6:18 pm.

Click for full picture on

The Continental Airlines Boeing 737-500 as seen at the crash site, one day later - C by Ben Remy on

The Boeing 737-500 (registration number N18611) that first flew in 1994 had 115 people on board of flight CO 1404 (110 passengers and 5 crew), who ALL disembarked the plane through emergency slides that have been deployed on both sides of the aircraft. 38 of them were taken to hospital, with 4 having “moderate to serious” and one person reported as having “serious” injuries. Most injuries are broken bones and fractures. Most of the passengers escaped through the emergency slides and were climbing up the small hill immediately after the accident as the fire fighters arriving to the scene have seen passengers walking or running away from the plane, coming out of the smoke that covered the wreckage.

It is not yet confirmed whether the plane had actually taken off by the time it caught fire, but according to reports runway has was littered by wreckage – which indicates that the plane may have lifted off and then practically fell back on the runway before sliding off into a small ravine on the side 200 yards away. (If this is true, the accident itself seems to be similar to that of Spanair in Madrid earlier this year, where most of the passengers died…) One passenger story tells us: “the plane started to take off, came back down and skidded off“, but this will have to be investigated. After skidding off, the plane came to rest on its right hand side, and the cabin was filled with smoke. After the evacuation the fire had entered the cabin as well, as firefighters were reporting that the overhead luggage bins have melted onto the seats.

by balint01

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