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SkyWest Inc. (SKYW), the largest U.S. regional airline operator, on Wednesday announced plans to acquire a Houston-based rival in a move that lines up the commuter operations of merger partners Continental Airlines Inc. (CAL) and UAL Corp.'s (UAUA) United Airlines.
Utah-based SkyWest reached an agreed $133 million all-cash deal to acquire the parent of ExpressJet Airlines, the largest provider of regional services to Continental. SkyWest is already a large provider of commuter flights to United, as well as Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL).
The U.S. network airlines have sold or spun off almost all of their regional operations, subcontracting flying from operators like SkyWest, which plans to combine ExpressJet with the Atlantic Southeast Airlines business it acquired from Delta.
SkyWest is offering $6.75 a share for each share in ExpressJet Holdings Inc. and aims to close the deal in the fourth quarter.
-By Doug Cameron, Dow Jones Newswires; 312-750-4135; email@example.com