Continental Reopens Talks With United

Andrew Ross Sorkin, Michael J. de la Merced and Jad Mouawad|The New York Times

Continental Airlines has reopened merger talks with the UAL Corporation, the parent company of United Airlines, people briefed on the matter told DealBook on Thursday.

The talks are in early stages and may quickly fall apart, these people cautioned.

The early talks between the two companies follow the resumption of negotiations between United and US Airways, as the airline industry faces continued pressure to consolidate.

Continental , which held merger talks with United in 2008, was taken by surprise when DealBook broke news of the United-US Airways talks last week.

Jean Medina, a spokeswoman at United , declined to comment. Julie King, a spokeswoman at Continental, declined to comment to DealBook.

Analysts have said that a Continental-United merger would make more sense, giving United routes to South American and access in New York.

Some within the airline industry have speculated that United’s talks with US Airways were an attempt to flush out Continental as a potential merger partner.

“United has been standing at the altar waiting for the bride to show up and just got tired of waiting,” Mo Garfinkle, an airline consultant, previously told The New York Times. “Maybe by flirting with another girl, it can get Continental’s attention again.”

Shares in United traded down about 1 percent at $22.11 in early afternoon trading on Thursday, while those in Continental were down about 2.6 percent at $22.64. Shares in US Airways were down 1.35 percent at $7.32.