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Continental could try partnership next

HOUSTON, April 29 (UPI) -- Continental Airlines is looking at partnership deals with American Airlines, sharing services but stopping short of a merger, industry analysts said Tuesday.

The push for a deal to sell tickets to each others' airline and integrate frequent flyer programs may be provided by Continental's loss of membership in SkyTeam if rivals United Air Lines and Northwest Airlines merge.

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That would mean several hundred million dollars of lost revenue annually, industry analyst Robert Mann told the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram.

"That's not chicken feed, especially when airlines are scraping around for every dollar they can raise," Mann told the paper.

Similar partnerships could be extended to an international alliance called Oneworld, which includes British Airways and Japan Air Lines, the report said.

In a letter to employees Continental's Chief Executive Officer Larry Kellner said the carrier is "considering alternatives to SkyTeam as we carefully evaluate which major global alliance will be best for Continental over the long term."

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