[Alfred] Kahn and the [Civil Aeronautics Board] were facing not just one but three airline mergers in the summer of 1978. In addition to the battle for National, Continental Airlines and Western Air Lines had filed for approval to merge, and two local service carriers — North Central Airlines and Southern Airways — also wanted to combine forces.
Kahn was deeply troubled by all this merger activity. After all, the CAB has in practice given carriers virtual carte blanche to serve any domestic markets they wanted. “This is the last time in the world anyone needs to merge to gain new routes,” the CAB chairman told a reporter later that summer. “We are strongly motivated to let anyone fly wherever they want. But instead of grasping the opportunities we’re offering, this disease, this psychology, is getting abroad that airlines ought to merge.”
— Barbara Sturken Peterson and James Glab, Rapid Descent: Deregulation and the Shakeout in the Airlines (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994).