United Air Loses Finance Chief After Less Than Two Years

(Bloomberg) -- United Airlines Chief Financial Officer Andrew Levy is resigning after less than two years with the company, saying he will pursue “entrepreneurial” opportunities, as the carrier works to bolster its network and overhaul its fleet.

Levy, 47, was hired at United Continental Holdings Inc. in August 2016, the same month that the carrier announced it had hired Scott Kirby away from rival American Airlines Group Inc. as president.

“I plan to return to the more entrepreneurial pursuits that have defined my career,” Levy wrote in a note to colleagues Thursday. “My decision to resign was reached after a great deal of thought during the past few months. I have some interesting opportunities and now is the right time for me to move forward.”

Levy cited the same entrepreneurial opportunities when he left Allegiant Travel Co. in October 2014, without providing details. He served as president of the ultra-low-cost airline for 13 years. Levy earned $3.3 million in compensation last year at United.

Departure Timing

His departure comes as Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz is working to strengthen the Chicago-based airline’s domestic hubs, add regional routes and revamp its long-haul fleet to newer, more efficient aircraft.

“I personally want to thank Andrew for his contributions to United,” Munoz said in a statement. “He leaves the company in a stronger financial position and with a clear strategy and framework in place.” The carrier remains confident in its financial guidance, he said.

Levy’s term covered a turbulent time for the airline, including a public-relations disaster last year that followed a passenger being dragged off a plane. In March, the death of a dog that suffocated after its kennel was put in an overhead storage bin generated an outcry that reached from social media to the U.S. Senate.

In March, United got more unwanted attention when it replaced an employee-bonus program with a lottery that awarded larger prizes to fewer people. The airline dropped the idea after employees pushed back.

Levy’s departure follows that of Julie Stewart, Munoz’s chief of staff, who recently told colleagues she is leaving to take a job at Delta Air Lines Inc. Stewart previously worked as managing director of investor relations at United.

Senior Vice President Gerry Laderman will serve as interim CFO at United. He took the same role during the year United was searching for a replacement for Levy’s predecessor, John Rainey, who left in mid-2015 to work for PayPal Holdings Inc.

The shares were unchanged after the close of regular trading in New York. United has climbed 3.1 percent this year, while a Standard & Poor’s index of the five biggest U.S. airlines dropped 12 percent.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.