United has hired an African-American executive to serve as the company’s president, a first for the airline. Brett J. Hart’s first challenge will be navigating the struggling airline through a pandemic.
“Brett is a well-established and widely respected leader who has established a strong track record over the last decade, helping United navigate complex challenges across all areas of our business,” current CEO Oscar Munoz said in a statement. “He is recognized inside and outside of the airline industry for his leadership and has played a central role in shaping our strategy, culture, and leading our community engagement around the world.”
Hart was formerly the company’s Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer. “I am honored and energized as I take on these new responsibilities to lead this incredible team that I am convinced will build United into a thriving industry leader,” Hart said. “The path forward will not be easy, but I am confident that Scott [Kirby] (CEO) and I will continue our partnership to lead United through the extraordinary challenge posed by COVID-19. United’s bright future is only possible because of the commitment of the most talented airline professionals in the world who serve United and our customers every single day – and I could not be prouder of them.”
United is facing increasing backlash from passengers that say their flights are near capacity, face masks are not being required, and distancing guidelines are not being followed. The airline’s stock is down 68.01% ($54.00) from the start of the pandemic, and 3,400 management and administrative jobs are expected to be eliminated by fall.