Last updated: 11:16 AM ET, Thu April 21 2016

Former Air Canada CEO to Chair United

Airlines & Airports | United Airlines | Monica Poling | April 21, 2016

Former Air Canada CEO to Chair United

Image courtesy of United Continental Holdings Twitter account

United Continental Holdings has named Robert Milton, the former Chairman and CEO of Air Canada, as its new Non-Executive Chairman. Milton, who joined United’s board in March 2016, will begin his new role in June, immediately following the election of new directors at the company’s 2016 Annual Meeting.

Milton will replace Henry L. Meyer III, who has announced that he is retiring is not seeking re-election. Oscar Munoz, United’s President and Chief Executive Officer, who was slated to become the company’s Chairman in 2017 has announced that he will delay that appointment until 2018.

Milton’s appointment is just one measure the airline is taking two appease two of its major shareholders, Altimeter Capital Management, LP and PAR Capital Management, Inc., who threatened to take more control of the board by nominating six candidates this June. At issue for the two funds is a board of directors that they felt lacked enough airline-industry experience and subsequently

United, which is currently ranked third in the United States by traffic, has been struggling to maintain market share ever since it merged with Continental in 2010.

Two of the proposed nominations, Edward L. Shapiro, Managing Partner and portfolio manager at PAR, and Barney Harford, former Chief Executive Officer of Orbitz Worldwide, Inc., have immediately been appointed the board of directors.

“We are confident that the changes contemplated by the settlement agreement, when combined with the recent changes made by the Board, will create a new Board that is well positioned to help management to achieve United's full potential,” said Shapiro.

United will also be adding a “mutually agreed upon” independent director to the Board within the net six months. In response to the new appointments, Altimeter has withdrawn its notice of intent to nominate directors at the annual meeting.

“I will continue to work closely with United’s Board, management team and our 85,000 talented aviation professionals to build on our momentum and focus on what matters most: improving our operational and financial performance while elevating the experience of our valued employees and customers,” said Munoz.

At the conclusion of this year’s annual meeting, seven of the United’s 14 directors, and five of its 11 independent directors, will be new to the board since March 1, 2016.

Robert Milton, 55, served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ACE Aviation Holdings Inc. from 2004 to 2012. Previously he held the position of President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Canada from 1999 to 2004. He joined Air Canada in 1992 as Senior Director of Scheduling and also held positions as Vice President, Scheduling and Product Management, Senior Vice President, Marketing and In-Flight Service and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer before being named President and CEO in 1999.

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