Larry Kellner, Continental's Chairman and Chief Executive, surprised analysts and just about everyone else today with news that he is leaving the airline industry at the end of the year to head up newly formed private equity firm Emerald Creek Group LLC.
Kellner has headed
Continental since 2004, and while times have not been good for the airlines as a whole, the company has done much better than most of its competitors during his tenure. He'll be succeeded as CEO by the company's President, Jeff Smisek.
It's expected to be a smooth transition. But no matter how seamless it may be in the boardroom, the thousands upon thousands of us who fly with Continental will know the difference: a recorded video of Kellner has welcomed us onto every flight, and while it might seem silly, I'll miss it.
Farewell, Larry. You did a great job. I hope that Jeff lives up to the bar you placed.