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United Airlines replaces CEO

A United Airlines plane, front, is pushed back from a gate at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. The carrier named Oscar Munoz as its new chief executive on Tuesday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
A United Airlines plane, front, is pushed back from a gate at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. The carrier named Oscar Munoz as its new chief executive on Tuesday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File) AP

Jeff Smisek, the man who brought United Airlines and Continental Airlines together, has stepped down as chief executive of United Airlines.

The CEO’s departure, announced by United’s board on Tuesday, is related to a federal investigation related to Smisek’s relationship with David Samson, chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The airline’s executive vice president of communications and government affairs and senior vice president of corporate and government affairs have also stepped down.

“The investigations are ongoing and the company continues to cooperate with the government,” United said in a press release on Tuesday afternoon. “The company's internal investigation and the related circumstances do not raise any accounting or financial reporting concerns.”

Oscar Munoz, who is currently president and chief operating officer of railroad firm CSX Corp., is the new chief executive at United while Henry Meyer, currently an independent director at United, will serve as non-executive chairman.

The changes were made effective immediately. Smisek was given a $4.875 million severance payment and will have flight benefits for life. However, Smisek could lose some of his benefits and severance if he is convicted of a “felony or any crime involving moral turpitude” related to his time as CEO at United, according to a government filing made on Tuesday.

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