Jeff Smisek, CEO of United Continental Holdings, Inc., loves the challenges of the airline business, reports News Republic and the Associated Press.
Smisek graduated with honors from both Princeton University and Harvard Law School. He eventually left his job as a partner at Vinson & Elkins LLP to join a turnaround team at Continental. Upon Continental’s merger with United last year, Smisek became the CEO of the world’s largest airline. They retained United’s name and its Chicago headquarters, but most of the top executives who run the operation came from Continental. Smisek now oversees more than 86,000 employees and 5,700 daily flights. The airline also carries more than 142 million passengers a year to 376 destinations around the world. The goal of the new combined airline is to target business travelers, who tend to pay more for last-minute tickets, as well as focusing on lucrative international routes.
Most of Jeff Smisek’s time during the day is spent integrating the airlines’ different cultures, unions, and fleets. He also works on managing sky-high fuel costs and, since his email is in the public domain, he tries to read and answer as many emails as he can before leaving his office. He also foresees more targeted marketing on an individual basis for airline customers in the future and tries to visit with flight decks and flight attendants whenever he flies, in order to answer questions and get information.