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United-Continental merger could benefit air passengers

Wisconsin air-travelers stand to benefit from the proposed merger of two large carriers. While three of the state's largest airports are already served by United and Continental, an industry analyst says a larger, combined airline may keep prices...

Wisconsin air-travelers stand to benefit from the proposed merger of two large carriers. While three of the state's largest airports are already served by United and Continental, an industry analyst says a larger, combined airline may keep prices down.

The $3 billion deal would create the world's largest airline. Terry Trippler, a Minnesota-based analyst, says recent airline mergers are driven by the fact that there are too many relatively small carriers competing for customers.

A deal between United and Continental will mean better international service, especially to Asia and South America. Trippler says domestic fliers will probably be better served, except maybe in cities like Cleveland that don't have a lot of competition from low cost airlines. But Trippler says that's not the case in most of Wisconsin. He expects fare increases for flights between two major cities where no strong low fare competition exists.

Trippler says cities like Milwaukee--with a lot of low cost competition--are well poised to benefit from the United-Continental merger. He says Milwaukee will help keep the fares down for all of Wisconsin.

Trippler says oil is the real wild card when it comes to the cost of air travel. And the giant oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico could drive prices up.

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The U.S. Justice Department must approve the merger.

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