United Airlines names Oscar Munoz as CEO to replace resigning Jeff Smisek

United Continental Holdings, Inc. (United Airlines-UAL) (Chicago) Nhas announced that it has named Oscar Munoz as president and chief executive officer. Munoz will also continue to serve on United’s board of directors. The board appointed Henry L. Meyer III, United’s lead independent director, to serve as non-executive chairman of the board of directors. The company also announced that Jeff Smisek has stepped down from his roles as chairman, president and chief executive officer, and as a director. These changes are effective immediately.

The airline continued:

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Henry Meyer, non-executive chairman of the board of directors of United Continental Holdings, Inc. said, “Oscar’s track record demonstrates that he has the right blend of strategic vision and strong leadership to continue United’s upward trajectory. United is well positioned to continue executing on its strategic plan to further improve performance and the value and service it provides to its customers. I’m honored to have been elected non-executive chairman by my fellow directors. The board thanks Jeff for his service to both United Airlines and Continental Airlines.”

“It is truly a privilege to serve as United’s CEO. United has an incredible opportunity for improving an experience that is essential to the vitality of global business and to the personal lives of millions of people, for innovation, and for earnings growth,” said Oscar Munoz, president and CEO of United. “In my years serving on the board, I have been impressed by the dedication and skill of my new coworkers. Together, we will make United the top-performing airline.”

Prior to joining United Airlines, Munoz served as president and chief operating officer of CSX Corporation, a premier transportation company. Munoz also served as a director at CSX. During Munoz’s tenure, CSX transformed itself into an industry leader in customer focus, reliability and financial performance. CSX was named one of Institutional Investor’s Most Honored Companies for a decade of excellent financial performance, including increasing its operating income by nearly 600%. Prior to joining CSX, Munoz served in various senior financial and strategic capacities at some of the world’s most recognized consumer brands, including AT&T, The Coca-Cola Company and Pepsico.

He has served on the board of directors for United Continental Holdings, Inc. since 2010 and served on the board of directors of Continental Airlines, Inc. since 2004. Munoz is active in several industry coalitions and philanthropic and educational organizations including the University of North Florida’s board of trustees and the PAFA advisory board of Vanderbilt University.

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. 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.

The company’s internal investigation and the related circumstances do not raise any accounting or financial reporting concerns.

Meanwhile the Machinists Union welcomed the change:

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United Airlines announced Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jeff Smisek resigned his position as CEO, president and chairman of the board of directors and named Oscar Munoz as new CEO.

“Jeff Smisek, Nene Foxhall, EVP of communications and government affairs and Mark Anderson, SVP of corporate and government affairs, have stepped down from their roles,” said new CEO Oscar Munoz in a letter to United employees. “The departures announced 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 dedicated, hard-working employees at United deserve better than the questionable leadership Jeff Smisek provided,” said General Vice President Sito Pantoja. “We look forward to working with new CEO Oscar Munoz, who we hope will respect the good people at United and provided them the tools to put their airline back on top.”

Under Smisek’s five-year tenure at United’s helm, the carrier has consistently lagged industry peers in operational and financial performance and has posted dismal customer satisfaction ratings.

Prior to joining United Continental Holdings board of directors in 2010, Munoz previously served as president and chief operating officer of CSX Corporation, a premier transportation company that employs 1,200 IAM members.

“Oscar Munoz worked well with the IAM during his 12 years at CSX,” continued Pantoja. “He supported progressive labor relations there and we look forward to working with him at United.”

United Continental Holdings board of directors also appointed Henry L. Meyer III as non-executive chairman of the board.

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