United’s Munoz returns as CEO after five months



United Continental Holdings Inc. Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz, who underwent a heart transplant after falling ill five months ago, will return to full-time duty next week.
Munoz, 57, had been participating in all major corporate decisions during his recovery and has been meeting with employees and shareholders, the airline said in a statement. He joined in on a conference call with Wall Street analysts just two weeks after the operation.
“I’m energised by the momentum we have and I’m ready to join you,” Munoz told employees in a new video posted on a company website, Unitedairtime.com.
Munoz is set to return on March 14, when United will hold a summit of its various labour unions. The meeting originally had been scheduled for October 15, the very day Munoz suffered a heart attack. He went on sick leave shortly after falling ill, and general counsel Brett Hart had served as acting CEO.
Munoz took over at United amid a scandal engulfing the world’s third-largest carrier. Then-CEO Jeff Smisek and two other executives stepped down on September 8 amid a company and federal probe into the airline’s dealings with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.
Since taking over, Munoz promised to improve labor and customer relations at United.
The company has made some progress with its workers, including inking a contract extension with its pilots union. The Chicago-based airline still hasn’t brought together its flight attendants, who remain divided between those who started with pre-merger Continental Airlines and those who started with pre-merger United.
However, Munoz has created an improved atmosphere since taking over, Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, told Bloomberg last week. She met with Munoz on Feb. 4, and even while on sick leave he appeared to be running the airline.
“He’s back and in full control of the airline,” Nelson said last week. “He’s a medical marvel.”

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