In early September Jeff Smisek stepped down as United CEO, following the scandal involving the Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Smisek was replaced by Oscar Munoz, who seems like a good guy who genuinely wants to change United for the better. Unfortunately Munoz suffered a heart attack about a month into his tenure.
A few days after Munoz’s heart attack, United named a new acting CEO, Brett J. Hart. Hart was United’s executive vice president and general counsel. That seemed like an odd choice to me, given that Smisek was also general counsel at Continental back in the day. If United was truly trying to show their customers and employees that they wanted to take a new direction, you’d think they wouldn’t appoint someone with a similar history.
Anyway, after (understandable) silence from Munoz as he recovers, a statement has finally been issued from him today, about three weeks after his heart attack:
Dear United team,
Thank you for all the thoughts and prayers you sent to my family and me over the past few weeks. I am excited to tell you that I am on the road to recovery. My time away will be a little longer than I would like, but based upon discussion with my doctors I will be back in the first quarter.
I’m personally grateful to Brett and the entire management team for their leadership and for embracing United’s new direction. I know each one of you is committed to achieving our full potential, continuing to focus on building and delivering our shared purpose of making United not only the best airline to fly, but also the best place to work.
While I have been part of the United family for only a short time, I’ve built many valued and strong relationships so far, and I can’t wait to come back.
As I’m sure you can appreciate, this has been a difficult time for me and my family. Your messages of encouragement have helped profoundly. I look forward to seeing you in 2016 to continue working together to build a great airline.
So based on the above it does sound like Munoz will be returning to United, though it’ll most likely only be next year. He seems like a genuinely well intentioned guy, so I’d say that’s great news for the airline.