Continental, United merger talks heat up

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Continental, United merger talks heat up

The Plain Dealer – CLEVELAND, Ohio — Speculation over potential airline mergers continued Monday, with new reports that United Airlines had shifted its focus from US Airways to Continental Airlines.

The impact of a potential merger on Cleveland — Continental's smallest hub aside from Guam in the Pacific — prompted U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown to write to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood urging him to view any proposed deal with skepticism.

The trend toward consolidation in the industry has already had severe consequences in Ohio, Brown told LaHood. Delta Air Line's Cincinnati hub is less than half the size it was four years ago, with most of the cuts coming in the fallout from Delta's 2008 merger with Northwest Airlines.

"If this pattern holds, future mergers are likely to do further harm to Ohio airports, specifically Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, without increasing travel options or reducing ticket prices for travelers," Brown wrote in a letter copied to Attorney General Eric Holder. The Justice Department determines whether a merger decreases competition so much that it violates antitrust laws.

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