|Born||Jeffery Alan Smisek
1954 (age 61–62)
|Alma mater||Princeton University, (BA)
Harvard Law School, (JD)
|Occupation||Former Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, United Airlines|
Jeffery Alan "Jeff" Smisek (born 1954) is an American businessman who was the chairman, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of United Airlines in the period prior to September 2015.
Early life and education
Smisek was born into a Jewish family in 1954, and graduated from Princeton University, AB summa cum laude in Economics, in 1976. After enrolling in a PhD program in Economics at MIT, Smisek dropped out and worked in banking until he matriculated at Harvard Law School and obtained a JD magna cum laude, in 1982.
Prior to his role at United, Smisek was chairman, president and CEO of Continental Airlines, which merged with United in 2010. Previously a partner at the law firm of Vinson & Elkins, Smisek joined Continental in 1995 as senior vice president and general counsel. In 2004, he became president and was elected to the company's board of directors. He became chief operating officer in September 2008. In 2014 Smisek was elected Chairman of the Board of Airlines for America. Smisek serves on the board of directors of National Oilwell Varco, Inc. and the board of trustees of Rice University. In addition, he serves on the board of governors of the International Air Transport Association.
In 2013 and 2014, Smisek was criticized for United's poor customer service and employee dissatisfaction, problems with the integration of Continental and severe quarterly losses of $609 million. There was also a reduction of the performance-based part of Smisek's pay from $3.5 million to $1.25 million.
Smisek resigned from his positions as chairman, president, and CEO at United on September 8, 2015 due to accusations of attempts to influence officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. This came after a government probe in February 2015, which caused United to start an internal investigation. United Airlines had an uneconomic twice-weekly flight from Newark to Columbia, South Carolina known as "chairman’s flight" during the Port Authority chairmanship of David Samson, who has a vacation home there. Smisek left United Airlines with a severance payment worth at least $8.4 million, according to regulatory filings. Oscar Munoz replaced Smisek as United Continental CEO.
Awards and honors
Smisek is married and has two children.
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- United Continental Holdings, Inc. (September 8, 2015). "United Airlines Names Oscar Munoz Chief Executive Officer", press release via Marketwatch.com.
- Aviation Week (January 3, 2011). "Aviation Week Names United Continental CEO Jeff Smisek Person of the Year", press release via PR Newswire.
|CEO of United Airlines
2010 – 2015
|CEO of Continental Airlines
Incumbent; merged with United Airlines