After stepping down as CEO of United Airlines last spring, Oscar Munoz served for one more year as Executive Chairman of United. He has now stepped down from that role and said goodbye to United Airlines.
Oscar Munoz Pens United Airlines Farewell Letter
A virtual farewell celebration was held for Munoz this week, as Munoz bid farewell to the many employees who had come to love and respect him during his tenure leading United. A number of employees at United shared a final note Munoz sent to with Live and Let’s Fly, which touches upon his time and legacy at United:
Wherever you may be in the world when these words find you, I pray they find you well. I hope they reflect the high spirits we all feel as we welcome this season of renewal and hope.
That is the sense of optimism with which I write this note to you, my final act as chairman of United.
I want to thank you for keeping faith with me, our leadership team and with one another.
We love what we do because we see it as much more than just a way of making a living. It’s a way of life. As I often say, if you try to explain the magic of United to outsiders, no explanation is sufficient. But, for all of us who’ve been on this journey together, at least since 2015, no explanation is necessary.
It’s the thousands of high-fives and hugs as we pass one another in the terminals. It’s exchanging of family updates, sharing photos of newborns and news of high school graduations, trading jokes and gossip during those quiet moments in galleys during long-haul flights.
It’s that moment when you’re strolling down the streets of a foreign city, somewhere in our far-flung network, only to serendipitously cross paths with a fellow United person, smiles and handshakes abounding.
It’s the proud feeling we get when wearing a United shirt at family gatherings, or at little league games, and people want to tell us how much they enjoyed flying with United on their most recent trip.
At the end of the day, the magic of United is to know that wherever we happen to be in the world, we always feel at home, comforted and confident in knowing that members of our global family are never far away. Most of all, we know that we make a profound difference in the lives of those we serve.
Likely, by the time this letter lands in your inbox, I will already have taken up my new role. I make this move not without the bittersweet emotions and floods of memories that accompany the opening of any new chapter in life. All the same, I find myself filled with a boundless faith in our future. It is a faith born of my absolute confidence in the leadership of Scott, Brett and our executive and officer corps. Great captains are never made by calm skies, so the saying goes. Before the pandemic, I stated that this leadership team was the “best-of-the-best” in our industry. As the crisis recedes, and United surges ahead of the pack, there can simply be no doubt in their unequalled capacity, or that United’s very brightest days are yet to come.
As planned, I will continue to serve United in an advisory capacity for the next year, standing ready – as ever – to be called on if needed, retaining the one title that’s always meant the most to me these past six years: a member of your United family.
You know my mantra, “Proof, not promise.”
I promise that the next time you hear from me will be in person, as I travel our system, visiting our stations and hubs, making up for lost time of the past year, and keeping alive the connection we built together. While I plan on travelling many, many miles, I will never be far away, and I promise to visit personally with as many of you as possible.
As the poem says:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
I want to look you in the eyes and thank you for saving United Airlines in its moment of greatest need. I want to pay tribute to the struggles and sacrifices you’ve overcome.
I want to call out by name and honor those heroes who volunteered for furloughs or early outs, saving another colleague who simply could not do so for family reasons or financial hardship.
I want to shake hands with those of you who braved the pandemic because you could not work remotely. And I want to hug those of you who’ve been toiling away remotely, feeling the mental burden of isolation, juggling the demands of working around the household while also working the clock.
Most of all, I want to be there to see all of you as you take a moment to pat each other on the back. To thank one another for what each of you did. To witness our collective hopes for a reunion be fulfilled.
I’ve asked so much of you these past years, and you’ve never let me down. Humbly, I ask one thing further.
Please remember that this bond we’ve built is precious and must be zealously protected. Do not forget what it was like when we were not yet truly a united-United Airlines. Keep the New Spirit of United that we built together alive, lighting the candles of the people following in your footsteps.
And, if your flame starts to burn out, know that you can always count on me. I will be there to offer my own to help relight yours.
In closing, as I look back on the past six years, I realize that everything I accomplished in my career leading up to joining the United family was only prologue. Whatever the next chapters of my life may hold, I know they will only be an epilogue to the incredible, unpredictable, thoroughly inspiring, endlessly fascinating, and profoundly rewarding adventure that has been the experience of serving my United family these years, the greatest privilege of my career.
Thank you for the ride of a lifetime, and a lifetime of memories.
Your friend, always,
I speak as a customer, not an employee, but a customer who averages more than 100,000 miles a year on United alone. I can say, without any hesitation or reservation, that I will always respect Oscar for being an approachable, decent, honorable guy. Empathy and tenderness are sometimes seen as weakness in a leader, but are two of Munoz’s greatest strengths and will be his legacy.
image: United Airlines