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United CEO Undergoes Successful Heart Transplant

United Airlines chief executive receives a heart transplant and is expected to return to the airline in Spring 2016.

United Airlines chief executive officer Oscar Munoz received a new heart Wednesday as part of his medical treatment plan. The Chicago-based carrier confirmed the transplant procedure took place on the morning of January 6. The airline reports the executive is expected to make a full recovery.

“Munoz is currently recovering well following the heart transplant he received on Jan. 6, 2016,” the company wrote in a press release. “He is still expected to return from his previously announced medical leave at the end of the first quarter or the beginning of the second quarter of 2016.”

The heart transplant was undertaken at the advice of Munoz’ medical team. Prior to the operation, Munoz was cleared to return to work and was participating in limited activities with the company. According to the airline, Munoz was “gradually resuming company-related activities in collaboration with [acting CEO Brett J. Hart],” including speaking with employees and participating in company meetings.

During his leave of absence, the world’s fourth-largest airline by passengers continued to move forward with several key initiatives. Since October 2015, United has presented a new contract to pilots, partnered with an LGBT association to create more diversity in their employment, and enacted a new plan to win back corporate accounts.

Until Munoz is fully cleared to return to the airline, Hart will remain acting chief executive. The United board of directors continued to express their support for Munoz, who replaced former CEO Jeff Smisek in 2015.

“We take comfort in the prognosis for Oscar’s full recovery, based both on the report from his medical team and what we have learned about transplants from our own consulting cardiologist,” Henry L. Meyer III, non-executive chairman of the United board, said in the statement. “We will, of course, be monitoring Oscar’s progress closely and both his and the board’s focus will be on the best interests of our shareholders.”

[Photo: Ryan Lowry]

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3 Comments
S
Sabai January 10, 2016

MaxVO: I think an alternative conclusion might be that UA is better off with an temporarily incapacitated CEO rather than the malevolent Smisek. I understand he's now darkening the halls of Airlines Against Americans; it's a perfect fit.

P
privacylawyer January 8, 2016

prayers are with him and his family.

M
MaxVO January 7, 2016

Hmm...an airline seems to run better without an active CEO. That's something the boards at Delta and American should notice (and save themselves a load of cash).