Smisek and two other senior executives stepped down in connection with a federal probe of United Continental. Fred Katayama reports.
Unscheduled departures at United Continental. CEO Jeff Smisek and two senior executives stepped down in connection with a federal probe of the airline. That investigation and United's own probe are looking into the relationship between the airline and the former chair of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, David Samson. Media reports say they're examining whether United added direct flights from Newark, New Jersey to Columbia, South Carolina to accommodate Samson who has a vacation home near there. United canceled that route after Samson resigned in early 2014. United says it is cooperating with the government. Stepping in to replace Smisek: veteran United board member and former COO of railroad operator CSX, Oscar Munoz. Cowen analyst Helane Becker said the new management will "… bring a new perspective to United over the long-term … The new management could untap United's potential, given United's hub structure and size." Munoz says he'll focus on improving United's performance. It has the worst on-time record among the four biggest airlines. United Continental shares are down 14 percent this year in line with its peers. The stock lost ground in early trading.