Jeff Smisek was CEO of Continental and took over United in the 2010 merger and now he and two of his top execs have quit in the midst of a scandal over favor-trading with the NY and NJ Port Authority.
It's an unexpected outgrowth of the federal investigation into Chris Christie's punitive, politicized lane-closures, the scandal of which may have tanked his presidential bid.
In February, federal prosecutors issued subpoenas that appeared to be focused on whether Mr. Samson had pushed United to reinstate flights between Newark and Columbia, S.C., that he used to travel to and from his weekend home in Aiken, S.C. — a route that Port Authority officials nicknamed "the chairman's flight." Ms. Foxhall and Mr. Anderson were among the United officials whose communications with the Port Authority had been subpoenaed.
"The departures announced today are 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," the company said in a statement. "The investigations are ongoing and the company continues to cooperate with the government."
Though the resignations would appear to signal trouble for Mr. Samson, the authorities have given no sign that they were ready to bring charges in connection with the "chairman's flight" arrangement and apparently did not know the executives were stepping down until Tuesday.
United C.E.O. Is Out Amid Inquiry at Port Authority [Kate Zernike & Jad Mouawadh/NYT]