United Continental Holdings Inc. has settled a Securities and Exchange Commission complaint over a money-losing flight aimed at pleasing the former chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. United Airlines lost almost a million dollars on the service between Newark, NJ, and Columbia, SC, near David Samson’s vacation home.
The airline decided to reinstate the service, which had been eliminated, on the same day the Port Authority approved a United hangar expansion at Newark. The “chairman’s flight,” as it was nicknamed, was cut again when Samson, an ally of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, resigned from the agency.
Samson, who pleaded guilty to bribery, is to be sentenced in January; the airline paid $2.25 million to avoid criminal charges.
The SEC brought a civil case against United, arguing that shareholders were expected to bear the cost of a service with no business justification. The $2.4 million penalty settles that case.
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