United and Continental Airlines have forged a marketing alliance that will let them book each other’s seats, share miles and join international flights—but won't merge, reports the Wall Street Journal. The deal provides welcome cost savings in the face of surging fuel prices, but avoids the labor tensions and service disruptions that come with a full-blown merger.
"Alliances can work better than mergers in raising revenues and reducing costs without the integration, regulatory and labor headaches," an analyst tells Bloomberg. The agreement grew out of rocky merger talks, with Continental saying it wanted to remain independent. The value of both companies’ stocks leaped after the alliance was announced.