United Airlines C.E.O. to Step Down


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Credit…Mike Cohen for The New York Times

The chief executive of United Airlines, Oscar Munoz, will step down next year, the carrier announced Thursday.

J. Scott Kirby, the airline’s president, will become chief executive in May, when Mr. Munoz will move into the position of executive chairman for one year.

The airline said Jane Garvey, the chairwoman, would retire from the board in May as part of the leadership transition.

“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,” Mr. Munoz said in a statement Thursday.

Mr. Munoz’s original planed promotion to the role of chairman was scuttled in 2017 after intense public backlash when a passenger, Dr. David Dao, was dragged off a United Airlines flight by a police officer at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Video of the incident, which captured the rough treatment of Dr. Dao being removed from the overbooked flight to make room for airline employees, went viral on social media.

The airline was harshly criticized for how it handled the crisis. Mr. Munoz then agreed to drop a clause in his contract under which he would become the company chairman while staying on as chief executive.

The Chicago flight followed a previous incident that year when two teenage girls were barred from boarding a flight for wearing leggings.

The string of customer service mishaps continued under Mr. Munoz’s watch into 2018, when a dog died on a flight after it was stored in an overhead compartment. A passenger on that flight told The New York Times that the pet owner was ordered to put the pet carrier in the compartment by a flight attendant.

United has seen continued growth in 2019 and reported third-quarter earnings in October that topped estimates.

Shares in the company were up in trading following the leadership announcement.


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