Continental Airlines announced in a press release earlier today that the company's chairman and chief executive officer, Larry Kellner, will step down at the end of this year. Jeff Smisek, currently Continental's president and chief operating officer, will succeed Kellner as chairman and CEO. Smisek will take over as Chairman and CEO on January 1, 2010.
Kellner has been with Continental since 1995, and has been CEO since December 2004. After leaving Continental, he will head Emerald Creek Group, LLC, a new private investment firm based in Houston.
Jeff Smisek Bio
Jeff Smisek is president and chief operating officer of Continental Airlines and a member of the Board of Directors. He is responsible for airline operations, including flight operations, inflight, airports, catering, cargo, maintenance and technical operations, and also human resources and labor relations, global real estate, security and environmental affairs, corporate communications, federal affairs, and international, state and local affairs. Over the course of his tenure at Continental, he has also overseen sales and marketing, technology and legal affairs.
Smisek joined the airline in March 1995 as senior vice president and general counsel, and has since held positions of increasing responsibility. He became president in December 2004 and president and chief operating officer in September 2008. Prior to joining Continental, Smisek was a partner at Vinson & Elkins LLP, where he specialized in corporate finance and securities law.
Smisek graduated from Princeton University, A.B. summa cum laude in economics, in 1976, and Harvard Law School, J.D. magna cum laude, in 1982. He also serves on the board of directors of National Oilwell Varco, Inc. Smisek and his wife reside in Houston and are long-time supporters of numerous charitable and civic organizations.