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United to Keep 90% of Cleveland Flights After Merger

UAL Corp.’s United Airlines and Continental Airlines Inc., poised to complete a merger to form the world’s largest carrier, agreed to keep at least 90 percent of their flights at Cleveland’s airport.

The accord will cover the first two years after the carriers’ tie-up, with additional commitments for three more years, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray said today. Continental has a Cleveland hub, where it has about 170 daily departures and accounts for two-thirds of passengers.

The agreement may ease concerns raised in an antitrust lawsuit by consumers who said Continental may cut Cleveland flights. Continental Chief Executive Officer Jeff Smisek, who will be CEO of the post-merger United, told a San Francisco federal court on Aug. 31 that the airlines studied many scenarios for Cleveland service in their talks.

Continental is based in Houston, and the combined company will keep United’s Chicago headquarters after the merger closes by Oct. 1.

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