United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek has resigned from the company.
The Chicago-based airline announced Smisek’s departure, as well as the installation of Oscar Munoz as United’s new chief executive, in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.
The New York Times reported that Smisek stepped down as a result of a “federal corruption investigation” into seeking to “influence senior officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.”
This conclusion was supported by additional departures at United.
In the same release announcing Smisek’s resignation, United stated:
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.
In addition to relinquishing his CEO role, Smisek will step down from his jobs as chairman, president, and as a director, all effective immediately, according to the company.
Before joining United, Smisek was the CEO of Continental Airlines when it merged with United in 2010.
Here’s what United said about Smisek’s replacement in its statement:
United Continental Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: UAL) today 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.
Munoz brings to this role deep and broad experience in the transportation industry and large consumer brands including AT&T, Pepsico and The Coca-Cola Company. He most recently served as president and chief operating officer of CSX Corporation.
We contacted United for a comment and will update this post if we learn more.
Earlier this year, WNYC reported on what it called an investigation by New Jersey US Attorney Paul Fishman into a “sustained influence campaign” conducted by United to reduce the fees its pays to fly into and out of Newark Liberty Airport, one of the three major airports serving the New York metropolitan area.
In WNYC’s report by Andrea Bernstein, Smisek appears in discussions with Port Authority officials regarding the fees and United routes.
The New York Times previously reported on the investigation. In April, Jim Dwyer wrote about the appearance of a United flight to South Carolina that benefited for Port Authority Chairman David Samson. The implication was that the flight was restarted by United as part of its efforts to lower its costs at Newark Liberty. Samson resigned in 2014.
Before his resignation, Smisek had been credited with reversing investors’ negative views of United, according to Crain’s.
The CEO’s overall pay increased by 39% in 2014, to $11.3 million, Fortune reported.