United Continental Holdings Inc.’s board named former Federal Aviation Administration boss Jane Garvey to be chairman, as the carrier works to improve operations and close a profit gap with rivals.
Garvey succeeds Robert Milton, a former Air Canada chief executive officer who led United’s board for two years and announced plans last month to step down. Garvey, who guided the FAA through the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, serves as North America chairman of investment firm Meridiam Infrastructure. She joined United’s board in 2009.
As non-executive chairman, Garvey will oversee United CEO Oscar Munoz’s effort to widen profit margins to the levels enjoyed by Delta Air Lines Inc. and American Airlines Group Inc. United is also weighing an order of long-range jetliners and looking for a new chief financial officer to work alongside President Scott Kirby, who is spearheading an expansion plan focused on winning back market share in key hubs such as Chicago and Denver.
United’s board last year reversed a plan for Munoz to add the chairman’s role in 2018, following a public-relations debacle when a passenger being dragged off a plane. Munoz was serving on United’s board when he was tapped to lead the carrier in September 2015. He was president of railroad CSX Corp. at the time.
Andrew Levy resigned as United’s CFO last week, after less than two years with the carrier. Levy, a former executive at discounter Allegiant Airlines, said he wanted to pursue “entrepreneurial” opportunities.
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