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United CEO Jeff Smisek: 'If We Had Stayed Alone As The Old Continental, We Wouldn't Be Around Today'

United CEO Jeff Smisek: 'If We Had Stayed Alone As The Old Continental, We Wouldn't Be Around Today'
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Four years after the merger between Continental and United Airlines was finalized, Jeff Smisek, CEO of United Continental Holdings Inc (NYSE: UAL), was on CNBC to reflect on the deal.

“We needed consolidation in the business and consolidation has been very good for the business. We needed to participate in that. If we had stayed alone as the old Continental, we wouldn’t be around today,” Smisek said.

Smisek acknowledged that at the time the deal took place, Continental Airlines was in good shape, but it was still acquired by United Airlines (which was facing a host of issues).

There are always cultural issues, technical issues and financial issues when two companies are merged, he reasoned. Smisek said, however, that it’s the duty of the managers of both companies to address those issues and create an entity that’s better than each of the individual companies that merged.

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When asked about if Continental Airlines would have been out of business by now if the merger wouldn't have taken place, Smisek explained:

"Well I mean, not necessarily out of business, but it would have been marginalized for sure, given the vast network that we have today and American has today and Delta has today, it’s very tough when you are small.”

Image credit: DearEdward, Flickr

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story said that Continental acquired United Airlines. In fact, United Airlines was the entity to buy Continental when the two companies merged.

Posted-In: Jeff SmisekCNBC Media Interview Best of Benzinga


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