United Airlines CEO's 2014 compensation tops $11.3 million

SHARE United Airlines CEO's 2014 compensation tops $11.3 million

United Airlines CEO Jeffery Smisek | Sun-Times file

The CEO of United Airlines got a 39 percent increase in compensation last year, to more than $11.3 million, according to an Associated Press analysis.

Jeffery Smisek also benefited from an increase in the value of pension benefits granted before 2014, but that change is not included in the AP’s calculation for last year.

The bulk of Smisek’s compensation was in stock options that the company valued at $7.7 million. He also received the same $975,000 salary as before, plus more than $2.3 million in incentives, and $302,277 in other compensation, about half of which was matching contributions to retirement plans.

Parent company United Continental Holdings Inc. disclosed the payments in a regulatory filing on Friday. Including the change in value of previously granted pension benefits, United reported Smisek’s compensation at nearly $12.8 million.

United doubled its net income in 2014, to $1.13 billion. Its stock price gained 77 percent — about the same as Delta but less than Southwest and American.

U.S. airlines have achieved record profits as mergers reduced competition, making it easier to limit the number of flights and push fares modestly higher. In late 2014, they also benefited from a steep drop in the price of jet fuel.

Chicago-based United is the second-largest airline company behind American. Smisek, 60, is also chairman and president. He was named CEO at Continental shortly before that airline merged with United in 2010.

The Associated Press calculates executive compensation by including salary, bonuses, perks, above-market interest on deferred compensation and the estimated value of stock and stock options awarded during the year. It does not include changes in the present value of pension benefits, so the AP total can differ from the total reported by companies to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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