Continental Airlines today
announced that its board of directors has elected Executive Vice President
Jeffery A. Smisek to be president of the company when Larry Kellner
assumes the new responsibilities of chairman and chief executive officer
at the end of the year. As previously announced, Kellner, now president
and chief operating officer, is succeeding Gordon Bethune, who is retiring
at year end.
Smisek, like Kellner, has been a member of Continental’s senior management
team for nearly 10 years. Smisek will assume the additional
responsibilities of sales and marketing, and global real estate, in
addition to his current oversight of human resources and labor relations,
technology, security, corporate communications, federal affairs, and state
and civic affairs.
Smisek’s prior positions at the company include executive vice president -
corporate, executive vice president and general counsel, and senior vice
president and general counsel. Smisek graduated from Princeton University,
A.B. summa*censored*laude in 1976, and Harvard Law School, J.D. magna*censored*laude
in 1982. He serves on the board of directors of Varco International, Inc.
and Orbitz, Inc.
The changes in the top two positions at Continental are part of a broader
management realignment which capitalizes on the depth of Continental’s
existing management team and reinforces the company’s ability to meet the
serious challenges it faces.
“When I became Continental CEO in 1994, we overhauled management in order
to achieve one of the greatest turnarounds in corporate history and
prepare the airline for long-term success,” said Gordon Bethune, chairman
and CEO. “Larry and Jeff are now able to harvest the talent that we worked
together to hire and develop. I know that when I retire, all my co-workers
can have trust and confidence in the team that Larry and Jeff are shaping
to help Continental survive and prosper.”
Key Roles Assigned in Management Team
“I am confident that our senior executives will continue to work together
to achieve industry-leading results,” said President and Chief Operating
Officer Larry Kellner. “My thanks and congratulations go to all the
members of our team who have helped to get us where we are and will help
us succeed despite tough industry conditions.”
Effective immediately, three experienced Continental leaders have been
named executive vice presidents:
—Jim Compton, currently senior vice president marketing, becomes
executive vice president marketing. Compton will continue to oversee the
company’s domestic and international sales, corporate development and
alliances, marketing, reservations, network, pricing and revenue
management, scheduling and distribution.—Jeff Misner, currently senior
vice president and chief financial officer, becomes executive vice
president and chief financial officer. Misner will continue to be
responsible for the airline’s overall financial operations including
corporate finance, treasury, financial planning, tax, accounting, investor
relations, fleet, fuel purchasing, internal audit and risk management.—
Mark Moran, currently senior vice president of technical operations and
purchasing, becomes executive vice president operations. In this position,
Moran will be responsible for the airline’s operations including field
services, aircraft maintenance, purchasing, flight operations, inflight,
technical services, planning and training.
Smisek, Misner and Moran, in addition to Senior Vice President and General
Counsel Jennifer Vogel, will report to Kellner in his role as chairman and
CEO. Compton will report to Smisek when Smisek becomes president.
The realignment also calls for four Continental executives to be promoted
to the senior vice president level.
—Bill Brunger, currently vice president network, becomes senior vice
president network.—Dave Hilfman, currently vice president sales and
reservations, becomes senior vice president sales.—Bill Meehan,
currently vice president Houston hub, becomes senior vice president
airport services.—Holden Shannon, currently vice president corporate
real estate and environmental affairs, becomes senior vice president
global real estate and security.
The four executives with new roles as senior vice presidents have a total
of 64 years of experience at Continental.
Brunger and Hilfman will report to Jim Compton, executive vice president
of marketing. Meehan will report to Mark Moran, executive vice president
operations. Shannon will report to Jeff Smisek.
In addition, Dante Marzetta, currently senior vice president airport
services, becomes senior vice president technical operations and
purchasing, reporting to Moran.
Continental also announced two new roles in the technology area. Ron
Anderson-Lehman, currently staff vice president systems development,
becomes vice president and chief information officer. Mike Natale,
currently staff vice president systems architecture, becomes staff vice
president and chief technology officer.
In addition to the above changes, Deborah Larza, currently staff vice
president airport services, replaces Meehan as vice president Houston hub.
Jon Roitman, senior director Cleveland hub, becomes staff vice president
Cleveland hub. Jay Ellzey becomes staff vice president safety and flight
Also, Continental announced that David Grizzle, senior vice president marketing strategy and
corporate development, will be taking a leave of absence to enter public
service, and his responsibilities will be assumed by long-time Continental
executive Mark Erwin.
Grizzle, with nearly 20 years at Continental, will be taking a position
with the U.S. State Department as senior transportation and infrastructure
advisor for the Afghanistan Reconstruction Group. He will be based in
“With Continental having established a solid, global network of alliances,
I feel this is an excellent time in my career to make a different kind of
contribution,” Grizzle said.
Mark Erwin, with 27 years at Continental, will assume the role of senior
vice president-Asia/Pacific and corporate development. This position
includes Erwin’s current responsibilities in the Asia/Pacific region along
with Grizzle’s duties related to building and maintaining strategic
alliances and code-share activities with other airlines. Erwin will also
retain his position as president and chief executive officer of
Continental Micronesia, Inc.
“We wish David well as he leaves to apply his significant talents to a
highly worthwhile endeavor,” said Continental President and COO Larry
Kellner. “Mark’s vast experience in the international arena will ensure we
continue to grow this critical component of our business. He is
well-prepared to take on a larger role managing our relationships with
other carriers around the world.”