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United Airlines Names Interim CEO

United Airlines board of directors announce Brett J. Hart, executive vice president and general counsel, interim CEO of airline

After being hospitalized with a heart attack, the new president and chief executive of United Airlines will be put on medical leave by the airline’s board, leaving a new leader to head up the airline’s initiatives. In a statement, the airline announced Brett J. Hart as acting CEO of United Airlines.

“At this time, it is too soon to know the course of treatment and timing of recovery,” the airline said in the statement, publicly acknowledging Munoz’s heart attack for the first time. “The UAL board of directors has named Brett J. Hart, currently United’s executive vice president and general counsel, as acting CEO. This appointment is effective immediately.”

Hart is the second attorney to lead the post-merger airline, following former president Jeff Smisek. The airline announced the interim executive will work closely alongside Henry L. Meyer III, the non-executive chairman of the United Continental Holdings board of directors.

“Oscar’s agenda is focused on customer service, teamwork and innovation and I, along with the executive team, will continue to move quickly to implement it,” Hart said in the statement. “We believe strongly that we can continue to make steady progress on increasing shareholder value by working together to deliver a great product to our customers.”

The airline has not ruled out replacing Munoz outright if the situation demands it. The airline noted they remain “actively engaged in preparing for all potential outcomes regarding the company’s leadership structure.”

“In the meantime, the United family’s thoughts and well-wishes are with Oscar,” Meyer said in a previous statement.

Munoz was reported to be hospitalized in a Chicago hospital on Friday, October 16, after suffering a heart attack. The airline did not elaborate on Munoz’ condition, instead issuing a statement confirming that the executive was admitted the previous day and day-to-day operations were continuing as normal. Munoz stepped in immediately after the resignation of former president Jeff Smisek, who resigned from the post due to a federal investigation of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The 56-year-old executive is just over one month into his tenure in the top position of the world’s fourth largest airline by passengers. Bloomberg reports the executive was set to meet with key union leaders on Thursday, before his condition forced him to seek treatment.

[Photo: United Airlines]

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sfoeuroflyer October 20, 2015

UA continues to be clueless. This is an airline that does not know what customer service even is. And they appoint their General Counsel to run the thing??? They already lived with a former General Counsel who failed in every single dimension. One wonders what is wrong with the Board of Directors.

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BDLORD October 20, 2015

Really loved Brett Hart in WWE. Wasn't his nickname "Hitman"? :-)