United Airlines announced the appointment of Michael Leskinen as its new Chief Financial Officer (CFO), succeeding Gerry Laderman, who plans to retire in September 2024. Leskinen assumed his role in September 2023 and took on broader responsibilities as he was also promoted to the position of Executive Vice President at the airline.
Having been with United since 2018, Leskinen initially served in investor relations, gradually progressing within the company. He has held significant roles, including Vice President of Investor Relations and Corporate Development since April 2019. In 2021, he took on the role of President of a subsidiary overseeing venture capital efforts related to sustainable aviation.
In his new position as CFO, Leskinen is overseeing various crucial aspects of United's financial operations, including corporate finance, treasury, FP&A, tax, accounting, investor relations, procurement, internal audit, risk management, and corporate strategy.
Notably, Leskinen's tenure at United has been marked by financial resilience, including securing $6.8 billion in financing in 2020 during the pandemic-induced challenges that led to significant losses in the aviation industry. He played a pivotal role in raising funds through the innovative strategy of leveraging United's Mileage Plus loyalty program.
His commitment to sustainability is evident through his leadership of United Airlines Ventures (UAV), a venture capital fund focused on decarbonizing air travel. Leskinen recently oversaw the launch of a $200 million corporate investment fund dedicated to supporting startups focused on sustainable aviation fuel.
With a background that includes roles at JPMorgan and Oppenheimer Funds, focusing on the aerospace sector, Leskinen brings over two decades of experience, making him a unique finance chief with insights into both Wall Street and the airline industry. His financial expertise was emphasized by United CEO Scott Kirby, who stated, "Mike brings a unique understanding of the public markets combined with an in-depth understanding of our airline and our industry."
Leskinen's appointment comes at a time when United Airlines, with over $70 billion in assets, continues to navigate the complexities of the aviation industry. The company reported total operating revenue of $14.2 billion for the quarter ending June 30, showcasing a 17.1% increase compared to the previous year.
Stepping into this crucial role as the CEO, his vision aligns with United's commitment to financial discipline, capital management, and advancing the United Next plan. With a compensation package reflecting his importance to the company, Leskinen's leadership contributes to United's financial success and sustainability initiatives.