MINNEAPOLIS - Directors at Continental and United airlines have approved a deal that would combine them into the world's largest airline, a source with knowledge of the situation said Sunday.
The stock-swap deal values Continental at about $3.2 billion.
Combining Continental and United would leave the United States with three big international airlines -- the new United, Delta and American.
Yesterday's board actions were described by a person with knowledge of the votes, who declined to be identified because the companies plan an announcement today.
United, a unit of UAL Corp., is the nation's third-largest carrier by traffic. Continental Airlines Inc., in Houston, is the country's fourth biggest.
Another key issue in putting the two airlines together will be integrating the pilot workforce.
A union hotline message to United pilots Sunday said the "union remains engaged in this issue, and if a merger is announced by United and Continental," union officials "are fully prepared to protect and defend the interests of all United pilots."