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Houston Woos Continental-United Merger

A little over a week ago, United Airlines and Continental Airlines began publicly discussing the possibility of a merger. If it goes through, it will become the largest airline in the world and Houston’s business and civic leadership want to see it based right here. Melissa Galvez has more.


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Business leaders from the Greater Houston Partnership, and several city, state and county officials gathered today to remind Continental-and convince United-why Houston should be the headquarters of the potential merged airline.  Mayor Parker emphasizes Continental’s deep roots in the city, and she believes they would receive great community support here:

“We are committed to working with Continental and the merged company, if that should happen, to be a Houston based company. We believe that our package of quality of life, of economic incentives that are available, is absolutely second to none.”

There is some concern that a merged company would relocate its corporate headquarters to Chicago, where United is based.  But Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says he thinks Houston is better located geographically as the gateway to South America, and that will lure Continental to keep an operational hub, at least, in Houston:

“I think when the boards of both airlines look at it, and step back and say what what’s the city of the future, what’s the location of the future, what better place to locate that new merged airline than in the dynamic city of Houston is growth where growth is what we’re all  about.”

If the newly merged company does move corporate headquarters, 1200 Continental jobs could be in flux.  Moreover, Emmett says, keeping the headquarters here is about Houston’s image as a center of Fortune 500 companies.  Though the government leaders are not allowed to formally negotiate with the airlines until the merger deal is finalized, they say they stand ready to offer incentives to make Houston an attractive place to do business.

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