United Airlines CEO resigns amid federal probe

United Airlines CEO resigns amid federal probe
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United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek has resigned from his post amid a federal probe into allegations the company offered flights to a small town destination to win favor from a New Jersey state official, the company announced on Tuesday. 

The Bergen County, N.J., newspaper reports that federal prosecutors have been investigating allegations that United offered flights from Newark to Columbia, S.C., to benefit the chairman of the Port of New York and New Jersey, which operates one of United's biggest hubs, Newark Liberty International Airport. 

United said Tuesday that Smisek and two other high-ranking officials have resigned effective immediately because of the investigation, which the company stressed it is cooperating with. 

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The company said a member of its board of directors, Oscar Munoz, is taking over effective immediately. 

United said Tuesday Munoz would provide a steady hand at the helm of the company, despite the ongoing federal investigation. 

"Oscar’s track record demonstrates that he has the right blend of strategic vision and strong leadership to continue United’s upward trajectory," Board of Directors Chairman Henry Meyer said in a statement announcing the resignations of Smisek and United's executive vice presidents of communications and government affairs. 

"United is well positioned to continue executing on its strategic plan to further improve performance and the value and service it provides to its customers," Meyer continued. "I’m honored to have been elected non-executive chairman by my fellow directors. The board thanks Jeff for his service to both United Airlines and Continental Airlines.”

Smisek has led United since its 2010 merger with Continental. Smisek previously ran Continental, which also operated a hub at Newark. 

Munoz said Tuesday "it is truly a privilege to serve as United’s CEO. 

"United has an incredible opportunity for improving an experience that is essential to the vitality of global business and to the personal lives of millions of people, for innovation, and for earnings growth,” Munoz said. “In my years serving on the board, I have been impressed by the dedication and skill of my new coworkers. Together, we will make United the top-performing airline.”