United Airlines Appoints New President

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United Airlines has announced that Brett J. Hart will take over as president of United Airlines Holdings effective May 20, 2020. Hart is currently serving as the company’s executive vice president and chief administrative officer. As previously reported by AVweb, current president Scott Kirby will step into the position of CEO and current CEO Oscar Munoz will transition to the role of executive chairman of the company’s board of directors.

“I am honored and energized as I take on these new responsibilities to lead this incredible team that I am convinced will build United into a thriving industry leader,” said Hart. “The path forward will not be easy, but I am confident that Scott and I will continue our partnership to lead United through the extraordinary challenge posed by COVID-19.”

Hart joined United in 2010 and served as interim CEO for six months in October 2015 while Munoz recovered from a heart transplant. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy and English from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Chicago Law School. Along with Kirby and Munoz, Hart will forgo his salary for the time being due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. According to United, it will not fill the role of chief administrative officer once Hart becomes president.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I wonder what course is taught in law school that prepares a lawyer for running an airline? It’s nice that the top three executives are receiving no pay during the pandemic, but I’m pretty sure the board of directors will make it up to them later on. (Stock options anyone?)

    • John,

      Nothing in law school prepares its graduates to run an airline.

      But United hasn’t been an airline for at least a decade. It has been a black box whose function is to create value for its shareholders. Airplanes and passengers were not a passion but necessary evils to generate cash flow.

      With that model in collapse, United now needs a leader who can successfully navigate restructuring and liquidation, negotiate debt forbearance and maximize the corporation’s share of future federal relief. In other words – a lawyer.

      • Kim, I agree on the part about not being an airline any more. To me, the seminal moment was when Continental and United merged. It once again answered the question of what do you get when you mix something good with something mediocre – a bigger portion of mediocre. Continental was run by Gordon Bethune, a pilot and airline guy who understood the business. He and his management group rescued Continental from bankruptcy and built it into a really good airline. The rank and file employees respected Gordon and willingly worked for him. He was known to wander through an airport (with no entourage), visiting with the employees and listening to their comments. He was also qualified to fly most of the jets in Continental’s fleet. I’m pretty sure none of the current set of “managers” has ever done that.