Good labor relations will be the key to a successful merger between United Airlines and Continental Airlines, analysts say. Seeing the writing on the wall, unions have been planning their negotiating strategy for years, and the merger between Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines is considered a template. A Continental spokeswoman notes the airline's history of good labor relations, and Bill Swelbar, an airline researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says labor issues can be resolved successfully. "The best case is months; the worst case is years," he says.

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