Jeff Smisek: United Airlines CEO And President Steps Down During Probe

On Tuesday, United Continental Holdings announced that Jeff Smisek was stepping down immediately as the chairman, president and CEO of United Airlines.

United Airlines provided a statement.

“The company also announced that its executive vice president of communications and government affairs and its senior vice president of corporate and government affairs have stepped down.”

According to Dallas Morning News, United Airlines continued.

“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 and New Jersey. The investigations are ongoing and the company continues to cooperate with the government.”

Rumors say that United began service to an airport near the port authority chairman’s weekend home as the carrier was seeking renovations at the Newark Liberty International Airport which is owned and operated by the port authority. United also disclosed that in February, a federal grand jury had subpoenaed information from its executive officers and the subpoenas requested records and testimony related to individuals that were formerly associated with the Port Authority. Federal law enforcement officials say that United paid for an internal investigation that led to the three United executives leaving the company.

Now that Jeff Smisek has stepped down from United Airlines, Oscar Munoz will serves as the president and CEO. Munoz has been a member of the United board since 2010 and was chef operating officer at CSX.

Smisek became president and chief executive of United in October 2010 when United merged with Smisek previous employer Continental, according to the Bangkok Post.

United did not give much into the reasons why the three men left the company and only said that it was an internal investigation into the cast that does not raise any accounting or financial reporting concerns.

United’s board chairman Henrey Meyer said in a statement, “Oscar’s track record demonstrates that he has the right blend of strategic visions and strong leadership to continue United’s upward trajectory.”

Smisek does not walk away empty handed though and received $4.8 million that was “separation payment” and he will also be eligible for his year-end bonus, so not a bad end for Smisek as he leaves United Airlines.

[Image by Scot Olson/ Getty Images]