A former top executive at Allegiant Air has been hired as the finance boss at much-larger United Airlines.
Andrew Levy, former president and chief operating officer of Las Vegas-based Allegiant, is the new chief financial officer of parent United Continental Holdings, the Chicago-based carrier announced Thursday.
United also said that it hired Boston Consulting Group partner Julia Haywood, whose clients included United, as its chief commercial officer.
“Andrew is the ideal candidate to join United,” President and CEO Oscar Munoz said in a news release. “His deep experience in not only finance, but airline operations is critical as we are redefining all aspects of our business to build a truly great airline.”
The 47-year-old Levy will receive an annual base salary of $675,000, according to a securities filing.
It’s a hefty bump in base pay for Levy, whose new employer dwarfs his old one.
Allegiant, which flies mostly from small, underserved cities to warm-weather vacation spots, had a fleet of 70 planes by the end of 2014 — the year Levy left — and about 2,400 full-time equivalent employees.
United Continental, by comparison, had about 84,000 employees by the end of last year and operated some 1,200 planes, including more than 500 aircraft flown by its regional carriers.
Levy, who resigned from Allegiant in fall 2014, joined the ultra-low-cost airline in 2001, the same year that current Chairman and CEO Maurice “Maury” Gallagher acquired the then-tiny carrier out of bankruptcy. Levy held various top-level positions at Allegiant and got a seat on the board of directors in 2013.
He had worked with Gallagher for 20 years, at Allegiant and other companies, and appeared a likely successor to run the airline.
In a news release from Allegiant announcing his departure, Levy said it was time for him “to pursue more entrepreneurial opportunities,” though he did not elaborate, and that the airline was “strong, healthy and poised for ongoing growth.”
Levy booked $5.2 million in total compensation — including a base salary of about $340,000 — in 2013, by far the most among Allegiant’s top executives that year.
His pay included a $900,000 bonus, also highest among executives, according to a securities filing.
Gallagher doesn’t take a base salary but is Allegiant’s largest shareholder, with around 20 percent of its stock.
Levy earned about $1.4 million in total compensation in 2014, including a base salary of $262,500. Under the terms of his “separation agreement,” he was poised to receive a roughly $8.5 million stock buyout and a $650,000 severance payment, or about $9.15 million total, a securities filing shows.