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, the parent of United Airlines, said Friday that it has extended CEO Glenn Tilton's contract for four years.

The board of directors for the company said Tilton's contract runs through Sept. 1, 2011, and replaces a previous agreement that would have expired Sept. 1, 2007.

"Under Glenn Tilton's leadership, United completed a $23 billion restructuring and returned to profitability, and we look forward to Glenn's ongoing leadership as United implements its strategic business plan," said James O'Connor, lead director.

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Before joining United, Tilton spent 32 years at


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, where he helped oversee the $35 billion merger between Texaco and Chevron in 2001. Tilton has been an outspoken advocate for consolidation in the airline business, and has said that United would play a role. United recently hired Goldman Sachs to explore strategic options, including a possible merger.

United's board also approved a four-year agreement for Pete McDonald, executive vice president and COO, and appointed Graham Atkinson, senior vice president for sales and alliances, to executive vice president. The announcements came following the board of directors' annual strategic planning meeting.