The New York Times reported yesterday that the headquarters for the airline resulting from the proposed merger of United and Continental will be in Chicago. This decision comes close on the heals of Chicago’s successful wooing away of both United’s corporate offices and operations center from a suburb near O’Hare Airport with the promise of over $40 million in incentives.
Chicago beat out Houston, long-time home to Continental. While Houston’s mayor told reporters, “(t)he competition’s now just started,” it’s clear Houston arrived late to the table.
What negotiation lesson can we learn? Get your deal done when your leverage is strong. Here, Chicago appeared to close the deal before Houston had even entered the game. Chicago’s successful negotiations to attract United’s corporate offices and operations center gave it the momentum and access it needed to move very quickly here. While disappointed, Houston residents can take solace in the fact Houston
will be the merged airline’s biggest hub.