Jeff Smisek to be new ceo
Larry Kellner is to stand down as chairman and ceo of Continental Airlines at the end of the year and return to private equity.
Mr Kellner, 50 has been with the Houston-based airline for 14 years, the last five as chairman and ceo.
He will be succeeded by his long time deputy Jeff Smisek, currently the airline's president and chief operating officer.
The announcement of Mr Kellner's decision comes a week after the US Department of transportation granted anti-trust immunity (ATI) to Continental with other airlines in the Star Alliance.
"While I will deeply miss my co-workers at Continental, it is the right time for this transition.
"Continental has gained approval from DOT of our Star Alliance application, which will allow us to continue as an effective global competitor," Mr Kellner said.
He will take charge of a new private investment firm Emerald Creek Group based in Houston on leaving Continental.
Mr Smisek, a 54-year-old lawyer, will take over as chairman and ceo on January1, 2010.
He joined Continental in 1995 as senior vp and general counsel and became president in 2004 and chief operating officer in 2008.