United Airlines CEO Munoz to Step Down Next Spring

By Anna Breuer on 5 December 2019
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United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz

United Airlines announced that its current CEO, Oscar Munoz, will relinquish that role next spring and will become executive chairman of the airline’s board of directors.  The airline simultaneously announced the appointment of Scott Kirby, who currently serves as president, to the position of CEO.

Kirby was recruited from rival American Airlines three years ago.

“With United in a stronger position than ever, now is the right time to begin the process of passing the baton to a new leader,” Munoz said in a statement. “One of my goals as CEO was to put in place a successful leadership transition for United Airlines. I brought Scott to United three years ago, and I am confident that there is no one in the world better equipped to lead United to even greater heights.”

The current chairman, Jane Garvey, will retire when Munoz assumes that role next May.

Munoz’ tenure at United started with some degree of controversy: his predecessor Jeff Smisek and two other executives were forced out under a black cloud in September 2015 after being investigated for doing favors for a state official who had jurisdiction over Newark Liberty International Airport, where United has a major hub.  Five weeks after assuming the CEO position, he suffered a heart attack and underwent a heart transplant a few months later.

He became the public face of the airline in April 2017 when a passenger was dragged off an overbooked flight. The incident became a public relations debacle and it resulted in changes in how airlines address overbooked flights.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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