Delta Air Lines Inc. is looking for a partner, but it isn't United Airlines.
The third-largest US carrier said yesterday that it had had no discussions with Chicago-based United about a merger that would create the nation's largest carrier, dismissing a report that the talks had been ongoing for some time.
But the Atlanta carrier did not rule out the possibility of a merger with another airline. With a fresh balance sheet after emerging from bankruptcy court last spring, Delta executives have said the company would rather buy another airline than be acquired.
"There have been no talks with United regarding any type of consolidation transaction, and there are no such ongoing discussions," Delta's chief executive, Richard Anderson, said in a statement.
An Associated Press report, quoting an unnamed executive, said two carriers had talked as recently as a week ago about a possibility of a merger and that there was a "sense of urgency" to the talks.
It described one scenario in which the combined carrier would keep the United name and be headquartered in Chicago, with Delta's Anderson as the chief executive.
"We do not respond to wholly inaccurate statements made by people who claim to have knowledge when they clearly do not," said Jean Medina, a United spokeswoman.
It's unclear what impact a United-Delta combination could have on air fares and schedules in New England.
At Logan International Airport in Boston, Delta is the second-largest airline, having carried 3.485 million passengers between January and September, or 16.2 percent of the airport's 21.47 million travelers during that nine-month period, according to the Massachusetts Port Authority. United is the fifth-largest, having transported 2.071 million passengers, or 9.7 percent.
American Airlines has the largest local market share, carrying 3.567 million Logan passengers this year through September, or 16.6 percent.
Earlier, Delta had issued a statement saying it had formed a special committee to "review and analyze strategic options."
It was in response to a letter it had received from a hedge fund that owns 7 million Delta shares. The fund, Pardus Capital Management, urged Delta to consider a merger with another airline in light of soaring fuel prices.