Smisek Out as United Airlines CEO
United Continental Holdings announced the immediate departure of its CEO, president, and chairman, Jeff Smisek, amidst an ongoing federal investigation. The Chicago-based airline named Oscar Munoz, CSX’ chief operating officer, to the position of president and CEO.
Henry L. Meyer III, United’s lead independent director, was appointed to serve as non-executive chairman.
United also said its executive vice president of communications and government affairs as well as its senior vice president of corporate and government affairs have stepped down, also in conjunction with the investigation.
“The departures announced today are in connection with the company’s previously disclosed internal investigation related to the federal investigation associated with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey,” the airline said in a statement. “The investigations are ongoing and the company continues to cooperate with the government.”
The U.S. Attorney is investigating whether former Port Authority Chairman David Samson used his position to demand favors from United at a time when the airline was renegotiating its lease agreement at Newark Liberty International Airport, which is owned by the Port Authority.
One part of the investigation concerns a direct flight introduced by United from Newark to Columbia, South Carolina, close to Samson’s vacation home. The flight was reportedly referred to internally at the Port Authority as “the chairman’s flight” and was cancelled by the airline shortly after Samson’s retirement in 2014.
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