Our Kind of Town, Chicago Is

OUR KIND OF TOWN, CHICAGO IS United Airlines buys Continental, decides to stay home: “Chicago will be the new headquarters, which is already causing a stir in Continental’s home in Houston. Smisek was asked on the call this morning why would the new airline be centered in the windy city when Houston has a ‘lower cost of living,’ and a ‘better business environment’ Smisek said simply that the only way the deal would get done is if Chicago became the headquarters and emphasized the importance of O’Hare airport as a vital hub.” [Deal Journal]

24 Comment

  • Smisek you douchebag. If that was the ONLY way then don’t do it. United is worse off than Continental both financially and in reputation. Wait a couple of years and then you can own United under your own terms. May your golden parachute land you in a rat infested swamp you traitor.

  • Just another company/industry that will be “too big to fail” what really pisses me off is clearly the loser won, Continental is the better run company by any measurement.

  • The decision to locate to Chicago is purely a political one. Pressure was put on them to be located in Chicago in order for the deal to make it through the federal review boards that get to make the final ok.

    If you were president, would you want your home town to lose a major company and many employees while there’s a recession and you are in charge?

    I still don’t see what was in this Continental? They were much better positioned to take over United given just a few more years. I hope Continental’s standards don’t drop because of this merger.

  • More change we can believe in.

  • It is not the President’s fault!

  • Eric,
    Why not blame Obama for bad weather and car wrecks while you’re at it.

  • Well not that I nitpick or anything but this does seem to be strike three for Wonder Woman aka the mayor. First the developing mess with Metro, which may or may not get funded now, then NASA, now Continental.

    Although to be fair to her, maybe the people at Continental just saw it as an opportunity to escape Sheila Jackson Lee. We will know if that was it if they announce they are no longer serving Washington out of Houston but through connecting flights out of Chicago.

  • Matt Mystery
    Why don’t you go ahead and blame Anne Clutterbuck and the Southampton crowd for Continental’s departure? God knows you won’t rest until they take the heat for global warming, the BP oil spill and Lindsay Lohan’s probation violations…..

  • I’m not laying fault at Obama, but I can see if merger resulted in headquarters being located in Houston, the local pols in Chicago have a inside ear in DC much better than Houston pols to stop the deal from hurting Chicago. It’s not right, but it’s how things work.

    I have and I’m sure many people who read this blog have friends or family that work for Continental. From what I’m gathering, the people affected will the staff in downtown primarily. The operations in Houston itself is likely to get larger with United and the soon to be merged company making Houston their primary hub to latin and South America. My flight attendant friends are saying they aren’t expecting to see any changes other than the uniforms and they may get some newer cities to fly to as part of the merger.

  • i’m very bummed by this news, and i think it’s stupid not to have the headquarters in houston as well. it would simply be cheaper.

    recall, however, that continental would have been the acquiring company two years ago when they talked about merger. presumably then the headquarters would have been located in houston. waiting clearly did not benefit continental or houston.

  • Chicago, isn’t that the city where elected officials wanted to bring in the Army or National Guard or something along those lines to help battle crime???

  • The whole “lower cost of living and a better business environment” thing Texans are always raving about it a pretty weak point at best. If that was the only thing businesses base their decisions on then ALL businesses would be located in Texas or maybe Alaska.

    NYC, DC, LA, Boston, Chicago, pretty much every major US city is full of large businesses with no intentions of moving to Texas. Education, quality of life, skilled workforce, proximity to other major cities, and prestige are just a few traits companies look for in a city. While a small tax break may be nice, large companies especially can afford a few extra bucks in taxes to get everything else they need in a location for success.

    All that sad I dislike United and am saddened by this news.

  • This news is a huge shake-up; Continental has been our rock for so long!
    Though it’s hard to imagine that there aren’t political machinations…
    Nevertheless, Chicago is a really nice city. And with global warming, it will improve with time!

  • Why don’t you go ahead and blame Anne Clutterbuck and the Southampton crowd for Continental’s departure?

    Anne flies back and forth between Houston and Washington two or three or four times a day, depending on who died, who married, or a press conference she can intrude on, like Sheila?

    The things you learn on Swamplot…

  • The operations in Houston itself is likely to get larger with United and the soon to be merged company making Houston their primary hub to latin and South America.

    You’re probably right and those who work in the divisions that serve Latin and South America probably may actually see staff increases. It is a major market.

    But in terms of the domestic divisions, well they don’t need “twins” in Chicago and Houston. So one of the twins will go. And I doubt it will be the one in Chicago.

  • I heard the new company will be called United but use the old Continental font and blue/gold colors for the planes…

  • Perhaps the U.S. Airways talks were truly further along than we thought, and Continental felt that the only way they could keep from losing out on their best merger partner was to strike a deal now.

    I am deeply saddened by the loss of our hometown airline. Although it might be noted an incovenient truth that Continental was actually stolen from Los Angeles…

    Maybe if everyone in the Metro area donates $1000 we could start another Texas International Aviation Holding Corporation and hostilely buy ourselves another airline… American anyone?? The irony there might be that we could send out a cute press release saying, “the new Texan Airlines will maintain a significant operational hub at Chicago’s O’Hare international airport.” And hey, we score a headquarters from the Metroplex. That’s never a bad thing.

  • Chicago is a world class city where Houston is a rat infested armpit.

  • Chicago is a world class city where Houston is a rat infested armpit.

    Houston is no such thing. It’s a karmic cesspool as Sybil Leek put it as she hightailed it back to Florida.

  • Chicago has a better infrastructure and better connections to other major cities which is probably a big part of the reason for the move to Chicago. Houston’s aren’t bad but Chicago is better.

    That being said, I too am troubled by the merger. Fares are likely to increase and service will likely drop.

    Frankly, I think it is time for the federal government to drop the protectionist policy of preventing foreign airlines from offering domestic service here in the US. Whenever I fly internationally I refuse to fly on an American airline because they nickle and dime you on everything. Bring Lufthansa or BA over here!

  • riiight: Globalize This!

  • I blame Obama for bad weather and car wrecks.

    Seriously, I wonder why “Smisek said simply that the only way the deal would get done is if Chicago became the headquarters.” I mean, it was Continental acquiring United, and not vice versa. Is it too cynical to suspect political pressure, in the form of an assurance of a smooth anti-trust regulatory approval process if HQ goes to Chicago, influenced this decision?

  • Here’s another thought – maybe Smisek would just prefer to live in Chicago.

  • The deal wouldn’t get done didn’t refer to the feds. It was a reference to UAL not leaving Chicago. My hunch is that Smisek would rather be there so I am sure he didn’t push too hard. If UAL left Chicago they would have to repay the city and state millions in incentives so I am sure that plays in. There is effectively a poison pill in UAL’s new lease in downtown Chicago.

    That said, for better or worse, Chicago has better density, public transport and global reputation. I am truly sorry to see Continental go. They may say more jobs but they are low paying compared to the headquarters jobs.

    UAL has awful culture. Everyone hates everyone else there. I suspect they will drag CO down to their level.