United appoints new chief financial officer


United Airlines has promoted Michael Leskinen to chief financial officer and executive vice president. 

Leskinen, a public supporter of AAM, will oversee a number of areas in his new role including: corporate finance, financial planning and analysis, investor relations and corporate strategy. He will also join the airline’s executive team.

After joining United in 2018 as managing director of investor relations, Leskinen was promoted to vice president of corporate development and Investor Relations in 2019. In 2021, he added the title of president of United Airlines Ventures (UAV). UAV has invested in carbon capture and utilisation technologies, advanced biologic feedstocks including micro-algae, electric fixed-wing regional aircraft and eVTOL aircraft.

“With two decades of experience on Wall Street and five years as a leading finance executive at United, Mike brings a unique understanding of the public markets combined with an in depth understanding of our airline and our industry,” said United CEO Scott Kirby. “He is the best person to help us drive a culture within our finance team that’s focused on moving fast, hitting our targets with no excuses, and being disciplined about capital and cost decision-making that supports our United Next plan. I know Mike will bring a strong and independent strategic perspective to the table when we’re making decisions about United’s future.”

In 2020, Leskinen led the multi-divisional team that successfully raised $6.8bn of financing secured by the airline’s MileagePlus loyalty programme. More recently, Leskinen oversaw the launch of a nearly $200m corporate investment fund that includes investments from UAV and other corporate and financial sponsors to support start-ups focused on Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

Prior to United, Leskinen was an executive director at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, And from 2009-2013, he worked at Oppenheimer Funds focused on the aerospace sector. Leskinen received his bachelor’s degree in finance from Arizona State University and his MBA from the University of Pennsylvania.

Earlier this year, United announced that prior CFO Gerry Laderman would remain in the role until a successor was appointed and then serve as executive vice president of Finance until his planned retirement in September 2024.