In a twist of events, Continental Airlines has chosen not to merge. According to their press release they feel that they are better off as their own entity, though they want to forge ahead with making partners.
This is a blow to the head of United Airlines, which is struggling to drag itself out of the muck that is the current airline industry bankruptcy festival. Without Continental Airlines around to help United in its struggle, United faces a possible merger with US Airways or declaring bankruptcy. My guess would be that they will do whatever possible not to file for Chapter 11 even though a merger with US Airways would mean even worse service than they already provide.
Is the loss of a merger for Continental passengers a bad thing? No, for a few reasons, the biggest of which is that Continental can create stronger ties to different airlines to help offset some of the costs of fuel rather than merging and trying to get the different airline fleets to be consistent.
For passengers it means that there will still be a competitor out there helping to reduce costs and that competitor will be working to further reduce travel costs by partnering with different airlines around the globe.
Great move Continental!