The Kentucky Derby may be taking place May 1, but the stakes are also high this weekend in the prospective United Airlines-Continental Airlines merger.
As the two airlines' boards were slated to meet over the next couple of days, Reuters reported that the two companies had agreed on a share-swap formula that would create the world's largest airline.
The whole thing still could blow up, however, as it did talks several years ago when pens were seemingly in hand, although reports are pointing to a possible merger announcement on May 3.
In the long-term, the global distribution systems would be the losers because fewer flights and segments means reduced booking fees and advertising revenue.
Forrester Research travel analyst Henry Harteveldt notes, too, that the combined airline also would be more formidable when it negotiates with the GDSs.
Apart from that, what will happen to the respective airlines' internal reservations systems will have plenty of people sweating this weekend as talks move along the backstretch.
Travelport currently hosts United's res system on Apollo, and Continental uses the HP-EDS Shares system.
It would seem to be to their benefit to drop one of the systems in the long-term or to transition to a new one.
How it all will shake out may depend on which airline is the force behind this deal, but which one is piloting the transaction is unclear at this juncture.
Various reports say United will be the surviving brand, with the combined airline headquartered at United's Chicago base.
However, while United's Glenn Tilton would be the chairman, Continental's Jeff Smisek reportedly would be the CEO, and there is speculation that the combined airline's leadership team would be Continental-heavy.
United's contract with Travelport's Apollo host system runs through 2013. United, one of Travelport's five largest airline customers in the U.S., can terminate the agreement before 2013, but Travelport says it doesn't expect United to do so.
Several years ago, United contracted with Amadeus to migrate the airline's res system from Apollo to the Amadeus Altea platform, but that plan fell on hard times and was placed on hiatus.
So, the combined airline could choose to integrate both airlines into Apollo or Shares, depending on which airline is calling the shots or which system appears better-suited for its needs.
Harteveldt says Travelport's Apollo system, which United created, is considered to be more comprehensive than EDSs' Shares system.
Both systems, however, are well-worn and need major revamping.
Or, at some juncture, the combined airline might choose the more arduous task of transitioning both airlines to HP-EDSs' still-in-development Jetstream platform, which American Airlines has signed up for, as well.
One airline analyst, who declined to be identified, says: "HP-EDS has a lot of skin in this game."
Harteveldt says, if the deal goes through, he hopes the merged airline won't necessarily be tied to their legacy reservations systems, but would consider all of the available choices.
So, regardless of which way the decision works out, there will be a lot of money and jobs riding on it.
And, any transition would be massive, complex and elongated.