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Continental Airlines

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( UAUA) United Airlines filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation asking for antitrust immunity to allow the three carriers to "create a more efficient and comprehensive trans-Pacific network."

The trans-Pacific joint venture, the three airlines said in a statement Thursday, would enable the companies to "compete more effectively with other global alliances, each of which has a significant presence in Tokyo."

Receiving the antitrust immunity would enable the airlines to jointly manage scheduling, pricing and sales.

"Our network of service to nine Japanese cities will be enhanced by giving our customers more options for using our flights in conjunction with United and ANA for trips both within the region as well as on trans-Pacific routes," said Larry Kellner, Continental's chairman and CEO, in a statement.

The Department of Transportation granted antitrust immunity to United and Continental in July, enabling the two airlines to coordinate schedules and fares for services outside the United States.

-- Reported by Joseph Woelfel in New York.

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