Smisek goes down like Frazier

There has been a federal investigation going on into the actions of David Samson, former chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the man who controlled Newark’s airport.

Today, that probe took down United Airlines Chairman, CEO & President Jeff Smisek as well as 2 other executives (Nene Foxhall and Mark Anderson, both senior vice presidents of the company).  Smisek’s resignation was announced as a result of an internal probe conducted alongside the Federal investigation.

Everyone added the words about this resignation not being an admittance of guilt, etc.

Don’t kid yourself.  If Jeff Smisek and two other senior executives suddenly resign, it wasn’t because nothing wrong was found.  To the contrary.  And it wasn’t a resignation so much as I’m sure these executives were encouraged to depart or face consequences far worse immediately.

Samson is accused of using influence to get United to put a flight in between Newark and South Carolina where Samson had a vacation home.

It’s notable that United “owns” Newark Airport so tightly and with such advantage it’s impossible for other airlines to gain any space at all.  They have Newark locked down the way Southwest has a stranglehold on Chicago Midway and Dallas Love Field.

What worse, Smisek is an attorney.  He really does know better than to allow his airline to influence an executive in that manner.

What happens next?  Someone named Oscar Munoz becomes United’s new President and CEO and Henry Meyer (an independent United director) is now Chairman of the Board.

Is that good?  I don’t know.  Right now, an incompetent fool can make money running an airline.  I would hate for these new guys to get the idea that they are airline geniuses.  Airline geniuses are defined much more by events seen in 2008 and 2009 than they are today.

This is bad for United.  There really wasn’t a need to cultivate such a relationship in this current airline era.  Smisek had everything going for him and his airline already and to influence Samson for more would have just been greed.

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