United Airlines, Houston's largest air carrier, says Jeff Smisek has stepped down as effective immediately. United Continental Holdings, the airline's parent company, has named Oscar Munoz as Smisek's successor as president and chief executive officer.
"It is truly a privilege to serve as United CEO, especially after serving on the board for the past 11 years," Munoz said, addressing investors in a conference call Tuesday afternoon. Muñoz joined the board of Houston-based Continental Airlines in 2004 and has served on the board of the merged company since 2010.
The board also named Henry L. Meyer III, United's lead independent director, as non-executive chairman of the board of directors. "Jeff's departure is 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," Meyer said. "The company continues to cooperate with the government. As the investigations are ongoing, we are not going to provide further detail on that subject at this time."
United also said that its executive vice president of communications and government affairs and its senior vice president of corporate and government affairs have both stepped down. Neither Muñoz nor Meyer indicated how or the personnel changes might affect the airline's operations.