Mayor Forms Continental Advisory Panel

As Continental continues to move forward on a potential merger with United Airlines — Houston's mayor wants a group of business leaders to advise her on the merger's economic impact. Laurie Johnson has more.

If the proposed merger between Continental and United goes through, Houston officials know Continental will move to Chicago.

But Mayor Annise Parker  says she doesn't know how many Houston jobs the merger will have an impact on.

"I don't have any indication that Continental is looking for incentives or anything else. We just want to be prepared that once Continental begins to talk about where the various jobs are going, that we can respond aggressively."

Which is why she's asked several leaders in the Greater Houston Partnership to serve on an advisory panel.

GHP Chairman Patrick Oxford leads the panel and says they want to identify ways Houston could benefit from the merger.

"There are a lot of jobs, as someone might say, on the bubble that could go either way and we want to work with Continental to make sure that they see what we might be able to do with respect to some of the groups and why it might be better for them to stay here."

As many as 3,000 Continental employees work at the company's downtown headquarters. Mayor Parker says last week she met personally with Continenal CEO Jeff Smisek.

"And he continues to indicate that Houston will be the largest hub in their system. We believe, both of us, that in the long run Houston will grow in terms of jobs just because of our strategic placement within the combined airline system."

Parker says there's a lot of speculation about what the merger will mean for Houston, which is one reason she wants advisors to sift the rumors from the facts.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...