United Airlines CFO Andrew Levy has resigned after less than two years on the job, catching Wall Street by surprise and prompting speculation of “serious conflict” in the airline’s top management.
In a statement published on his LinkedIn page, Levy said United had faced “several challenges” since he joined the company in August 2016 “but we have nevertheless enjoyed success. As satisfying as this job has been, I am considering several exciting opportunities and will choose one in the coming weeks.”
He added that he was “gratified to leave the organization in solid financial standing.”
United said it will immediately begin a search for Levy’s replacement, with treasurer Gerry Laderman serving as interim CFO. “I personally want to thank Andrew for his contributions to United,” CEO Oscar Munoz said Thursday in a news release. “He leaves the company in a stronger financial position and with a clear strategy and framework in place.”
But according to Forbes, Levy’s “unexpected announcement … may reveal serious conflict at the top of the organization.” A former airline executive described it as “a vote of no-confidence” in some of the leadership at United.
“My understanding is that Mr. Levy had become frustrated with some things at United that led to a point of no return,” said Henry Harteveldt, now a travel industry analyst and advisor at the Atmosphere Research Group.
“I have a feeling that there were probably some very heated discussions,” he told Forbes, adding, “You don’t leave a job as CFO without having another job lined up.”
Levy, who was formerly finance chief and president of Allegiant Air, joined United at the same time as Stephen Kirby left American Airlines to become United’s new president. Harteveldt believes United is in good hands with Laderman, who has been the treasurer of the third-largest U.S. airline since 2010.
“They have a very capable person that is going to take over,” Harteveldt said, “but it’s never good when a CFO resigns.”
United is facing a number of critical financial decisions, including its strategy for negotiations on a new pilots’ contract. In trading Friday, its stock fell 1.4% to $68.56.