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United, US Airways CEOs to Meet on Merger: Source

The chief executives of United Airlines and US Airways plan to meet on Thursday to discuss progress in merger talks and address key issues like labor, funding and capacity, a source familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

United Airlines
Jacquelyn Martin
United Airlines

Shares of US Airways rose about 5.5 in extended-hours trading on Wednesday after the news. Shares of UAL were little changed.

US Airways closed down 36 cents to $4.08 on the New York Stock Exchange, while UAL ended down 27 cents to $7.91 on Nasdaq.

The two carriers have been in talks about a possible alliance, but the pace had slowed lately over concern about how they could raise capital to fund the integration of the two carriers, the source said.

The carriers were also concerned about opposition from the pilots union at United Airlines. The issues will be discussed on Thursday, the source said.

United and US Airways have not agreed on any major points toward a deal, including who would run the company and the location of a headquarters, the source said.

United Airlines and US Airways declined comment. United, a unit of UAL, is also in talks over a possible alliance with Continental Airlines, which had called off full-merger talks with United in late April.

After Continental pulled away, United's talks with US Airways heated up, according to sources.

UAL's market value stands at $1.8 billion, while US Airways is valued at $657 million, one of the lowest among major carriers.

A United-US Airways deal foundered in 2001 on antitrust concerns. But consolidation proponents say the industry and the two carriers have changed dramatically.

Both have restructured hubs and routes during long stays in bankruptcy, and United has slashed domestic capacity to focus more on international routes.