United Airlines CEO Stepping Down


United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz will be leaving the position in May 2020 to transition to the role of executive chairman of the board of directors of United Airlines Holdings Inc., the airline announced on Thursday. Munoz has been United’s CEO since September 2015. He will be succeeded by the airline’s current president, J. Scott Kirby.

“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. “It has been the honor of my career to lead the 95,000 dedicated professionals who serve United’s customers every day. I look forward to continuing to work closely with Scott in the months ahead and supporting the company’s ongoing success in my new role.”

According to the airline, Kirby was recruited by Munoz in August 2016. In addition to a three-decade-long airline career, he has held senior leadership roles at America West and US Airways. Kirby is a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate and has a Master of Science in operations research from George Washington University. United also announced that its current Chairman, Jane Garvey, will retire from the board in May 2020 after more than ten years of service.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. Hopefully Kirby will understand the airline business better than Munoz, who ran railroads before taking the CEO position and knew nothing about airlines. Munoz seems to think United is in great shape, yet it is one of the lowest rated major U.S. carriers and is despised by many of its customers. Passengers keep flying United because of its virtual monopoly in key cities like Chicago, San Francisco, Denver, Houston and Newark NJ. Instead of booting him upstairs to the Charman position, they ought to send Munoz back to the railroads where he belongs.

  2. Keep in mind Mr. Kirby came from American, which was taken over by USAirways, which was bought out originally by America West.

  3. Then he should feel right at home at United. After all, it is an airline that was actually bought out by Continental Airlines. However, Continental made the major strategic mistake of adopting the United name for the “new” airline and agreeing to move the corporate headquarters from Houston to Chicago. That left employees to assume that United was the one in charge, which eventually became true, to the detriment of the traveling public.

    At this point, anyone who has been in the airline business for more than about 20 years has either been acquired by some other airline or has bought out some competitor. Unfortunately all the carriers now care more about profits than good customer service. United is a sterling example. They may be profitable, but their customers really don’t like them.