United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz will be returning to his full time duties on Monday, March 14—only two months after receiving a heart transplant.
Munoz took over as United’s CEO in September but suffered a heart attack only a month later. After a heart transplant procedure in January, Munoz has been only partially sidelined: In a statement announcing his return, United said that he has been “participating actively in all major corporate decisions and meeting frequently with employees, shareholders, and other stakeholders during his recovery.”
Munoz became CEO after his predecessor, Jeff Smisek, was ousted during a corruption probe in New Jersey. Smisek led United through its merger with Continental, but subsequently became the focus of both customer and employee ire during United’s struggle to integrate the two companies.
Since his appointment, Munoz has brought an optimistic mood back to the United camp, pledging to restore reliability and confidence in United’s operations. His first move was to bring back free snacks in the economy cabin—a definite morale booster. But what about the future?
“Since September when I became CEO, our team has been focused on our employees, improving operation and the customer experience, and the results are starting to show,” Munoz said in the statement regarding his return. “In fact, over the past several months United has emerged as a top performer in on-time arrivals and completion factor among our largest industry peers.”
During Munoz’s recovery, United’s general counsel, Brett Hart, was interim CEO, though Munoz did have a hand in actions taken during that time.
Of his return, Munoz says he will be focusing on helping United work as a team. “We have some important decisions ahead of us, and we can move forward with the necessary boldness only if we have a shared trust, confidence, and respect.”