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United Airlines: “Safety Is Our Highest Priority”

After eight high-profile incidents affected United Airlines in two weeks, CEO Scott Kirby is reassuring flyers that the airline is safe and the incidents are “unrelated.”
After Boeing’s shortcomings were brought to light, the aviation industry is under new scrutiny. United Airlines is among them, after experiencing eight high-profile flight incidents in two weeks.


The airline’s chief executive Scott Kirby is now reaching out to flyers to reassure them flying with United is safe, and the airline is taking the incidents seriously.


Kirby Says Incidents “Have Sharpened Our Focus”

The New York Times reports the spree of aircraft incidents took place between March 4 and 14, 2024. The issues ranged from plastic wrap getting ingested and burned in an engine, to an aircraft veering off a runway at Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), to three aircraft being forced to divert or turn back due to hydraulic issues.


The latest incident involved a Boeing 737-800 traveling from San Francisco to Medford, Oregon landing without an external panel. In all the incidents, no injuries or fatalities were reported.


The events were enough to cause United to reach out and reassure customers the airline is still safe to fly. Signed by Kirby, the letter wanted to reassure flyers: “Safety is our highest priority and is at the center of everything we do.”


“Unfortunately, in the past few weeks, our airline has experienced a number of incidents that are reminders of the importance of safety,” Kirby writes. “While they are all unrelated, I want you to know that these incidents have our attention and have sharpened our focus.”


United says they are currently investigating what caused each issue, promising that the research will ultimately guide future “safety training and procedures across all employee groups.” Moreover, Kirby says that changes are already being made, including an in-person pilot training day in May along with “a centralized training curriculum for our new-hire maintenance technicians.”


“We empower our team to speak up and raise their hand if they see something wrong,” Kirby writes. “You can be confident that every time a United plane pulls away from the gate, everyone on our team is working together to keep you safe on your trip.”


The letter is the second statement regarding safety from an airline executive this year alone. In January 2024, Alaska Airlines chief executive Ben Minicucci shared a video message with flyers announcing their changes after the incident aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 1282.


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