Etude de texte anglais
United and Continental merge to create world's biggest airline
Airlines' shareholders approve tie-up, as unions fear job cuts and customers mourn end of United's tulip logo
The world's biggest airline got clearance for take-off today as shareholders of United Airlines and Continental Airlines backed a multi-billion dollar merger that will create a carrier dwarfing rivals on both sides of the Atlantic.
The combined airline, which will adopt United's name, is forecast to have $30bn of annual revenue, carrying 144m passengers a year to 59 countries. It will be larger than Europe's top carrier, Air France-KLM, and will overtake its US rival, the newly merged combination of Delta Air Lines and Northwest.
Investors met to vote on the tie-up at twin meetings at Continental's headquarters in Houston and at United's base in Chicago. At Continental's gathering, 98% of votes were cast in support of the share-swap deal, despite concerns among unions about job losses, plus opposition in some circles to the abandonment of United's signature "tulip" logo.
"We are grateful for our stockholders' strong vote of confidence in this merger," said Continental's boss, Jeff Smisek, who will be chief executive of the combined company. "Our stockholders recognised the value of bringing together Continental and United to create a platform for increased profitability and sustained long-term value".
Hampered by over-capacity, a tough economic outlook and fierce price competition, airlines in the US have struggled to make sustainable profits. Several top carriers, including United, filed for bankruptcy protection early in the past decade as they suffered slumps in traffic following the attacks of September 11, 2001.
"It's a mature market and there are too many costs in the system given the level of revenue," said Basili Alukos, airlines analyst at research firm Morningstar in Chicago. "The combined network of United and Continental is very complementary and