In early September, Oscar Munoz replaced Jeff Smisek, the President and CEO of United Airlines. Amid a government investigation of the former chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Smisek ‘resigned’, ushering in an era of change at United Airlines. Employees seemed happy and Munoz, formerly with CSX Corporation, seemed to be just the thing the company needed to get back on track. All was well until Munoz suffered a heart attack, barely over a month on the job.
Brett J. Hart, an executive vice president and general counsel for United, was named as interim CEO on October 15th. The installation of an interim CEO was understandable for this kind of situation, though the lack of news regarding Munoz condition was worrisome to many, prompting fears that he would not return to the company.
Today, however, United shared an update from Oscar Munoz.
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.
Despite merging with Continental Airlines over five years ago, its been a bumpy road for United. Fortunately, the return of Munoz may be all that the company needs to fulfill their “flyer friendly” goals.