Jeff Smisek ’76 will lead the world's biggest airline if a planned merger between Continental Airlines and United Airlines is finalized.
According to the New York Times, a possible merger between United and US Airways prompted Smisek, currently Continental's CEO, to quickly renew talks of a deal between Continental and United. The airlines agreed upon a plan just three weeks after Smisek contacted Glenn Tilton, chairman of United Airlines.
“I recognized that United was the best partner for Continental, and I didn’t want to marry the ugly girl; I wanted to marry the pretty one,” Smisek told the Times.
Though the two companies were close to merging two years ago, Continental backed out at the last minute due to United’s weak finances.
During his five months as CEO of Continental, Smisek has made headlines for criticizing the federal government’s rule of limiting planes with passengers to three hours on the tarmac.
He graduated summa cum laude in Economics and went on to Harvard Law, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1982.
By Omar Carrillo, senior writer