United Airlines Names General Counsel As An Acting CEO

The turbulence around the United Airlines continue. The former CEO Mr. Smisek was fired last month due to on-going corruption investigation.

Bloomberg UA

The new CEO Mr. Munoz was a long-time board member of the airline and had a sudden heart attack late last week. Mr. Munoz is now on an indefinite medical leave. United board has named a general counsel Mr. Hart to be an acting CEO.

You can read more about this on Bloomberg’s website here and on WSJ here.

Here’s an excerpt from Bloomberg:

United’s response extends the uncertainty surrounding Munoz’s condition and how the airline will respond to the absence of the CEO it hired just last month. Munoz, the former president of railroad CSX Corp. was plucked from the board to run United after former CEO Jeff Smisek was dismissed amid a federal investigation into the airline’s ties to the former chairman of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

The Munoz family sent a note to United workers thanking them for their support and words of encouragement. “We look forward to a healthy recovery,” the family said in the message posted on an internal employee website.

And here from from WSJ:

The company said late Monday that Brett J. Hart was taking up CEO duties immediately. It was United’s first public statement on leadership plans since Mr. Munoz, 56 years old, suffered a heart attack Thursday. He had been named CEO just 37 days earlier and had pledged to fix operational problems and poor labor relations that had plagued the No. 2 U.S. airline by traffic since its formation in a 2010 merger.

Mr. Hart, 46 years old, joined United in 2010 after six years at packaged-food maker Sara Lee, where he rose to become general counsel. He had experience there with the challenge of dealing with a top executive’s illness. In May 2010, Sara Lee said CEO Brenda Barnes was taking a temporary medical leave—without providing details about its likely duration or underlying cause. Some shareholders complained about the thin disclosure. Nearly a month later, the food maker announced Ms. Barnes had suffered a stroke. She soon stepped down.


At least it is never dull around the United Airlines. CEO gets fired and replacement one has a heart attack. Let’s hope that Mr. Munoz can recover swiftly.

You can always question whether a lawyer is the right person to run an airline. Mr. Smisek didn’t do a good job and Mr. Hart’s background is the same.