And just like that, another lawyer is at the helm of United Airlines. As a lawyer myself, you might expect that I would express some form of solidarity, but it just makes me suspicious from the outset after sleazy lawyer Jeff Smisek’s tenure at United. But honest lawyer is not necessarily an oxymoron and I hope that Brett Hart, the EVP and General Counsel of United who has now been named Acting CEO, will not follow in the path of his successor.
Brett Hart sent the following note to United employees yesterday upon news of his appointment as Acting CEO:
To my fellow employees,
Today we heard from the Munoz family as they expressed their appreciation for the outpouring of support and good wishes from United employees…
Those of you who have met Oscar know that he has a passion for great customer service and an urgency to get things done. As the acting CEO, supported by the board and executive leadership team, I can assure you that we will continue the focus on providing employees the tools that they need to give our customers great service. Not only will we continue to listen to your feedback, but in the coming days we will be announcing some of the changes that have come from all of our listening sessions.
We know what we have to do and we can’t stop now.
I welcome your comments and feedback and look forward to achieving greatness together.
With best regards,
No specifics, though the tone strikes me as encouraging.
All accounts indicate United really dropped the ball in having a viable succession plan in place and in communicating directly to employees, the public, and most importantly shareholders about Munoz’s condition.
While I can understand the wish for privacy, especially in times of hardship, Munoz is hardly a private figure anymore and I find it curious that five days later we still have no idea how severe his heart attack was or what condition he is in.
But now we have an Acting CEO and Mr. Hart (not the wrestler, clearly) should be given the benefit of the doubt as he takes over what was likely a very unexpected role. I wish him all the best.
Let me tell you about my United flying today in one picture–
Yes, Mr. Hart, customer service is an important thing and the agents were great today in dealing with many irate customers, but operational reliability is still the most essential non-safety issue that continues to plague United and this was a brand new 737-900…in other words, there was no excuse for this.
My charge for Hart is that he will still make the same sort of empathetic pleas that we have heard from Munoz to rally his team to deliver superior customer service, but behind the scenes he and his team will be ruthless in extracting operational reliability from the many components of the machine that is necessary to smoothly run an airline.