Continental Airlines has named Jeff Smisek as its new chairman and CEO. His appointment is effective 1 January 2010. Smisek will succeed Larry Kellner, who has decided to return to private equity at year-end after 14 years with Continental.
Smisek joined the airline in March 1995 as senior vice president and general counsel. He is currently Continental's president and COO and a member of the board of directors.
"Although I am saddened that Larry has decided to move on, I respect his decision and wish him continued success," says Smisek. "Over the next several months, Larry and I will work together to ensure a smooth transition. Our entire team will remain focused on returning our company to profitability, and Continental's great culture will continue to be the driving force of the company's long-term success," he adds.
Kellner joined Continental in 1995 as the CFO. In May 2001, he was elected president of the airline and to the Board of Directors, and in March 2003, he was named president and chief operating officer. He became chairman and chief executive officer in December 2004.
"It has been a great honor to lead the professional men and women of Continental and be part of the premier airline in the industry," Kellner comments. "I have worked closely with Jeff throughout my tenure, and he is a strong and effective leader. I am confident Jeff will maintain Continental's unique culture and successfully lead the Continental team through these challenging times."