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A United Airlines B787

United Airlines appoints interim CEO

UNITED AIRLINES has appointed Brett J Hart as acting chief executive while newly-appointed president and CEO Oscar Munoz takes medical leave following a heart attack. 

Munoz took ill only weeks after replacing Jeff Smisek, the American carrier’s former chairman and chief executive, amid federal investigations into alleged corporate malpractices.

Smisek and two other top officials have stepped down in connection with federal investigations involving the New York regional airport authority.

United say it is too early to estimate how long it will take Munoz to recover.

In addition to serving as United’s general counsel, interim boss Hart has had wide ranging responsibilities, including government and regulatory affairs, corporate real estate, as well as corporate security and community affairs, says a company statement.

Prior to joining United in 2010,  he also served as executive vice-president, general counsel and corporate secretary at Sara Lee, was a partner at Sonnenschein Nath and Rosenthal, and worked as special assistant to the general counsel at the US Department of Treasury.

Hart will work closely with Henry L Meyer III, non-executive chairman of the board, and United’s experienced executive team to run the company in Munoz’s absence, adds the statement.

“I am confident in his ability to continue to implement the company’s strategy and Oscar’s mission of bringing United’s people together around the shared purpose of becoming the best airline for our customers and employees,” states Meyer.

United says its board of directors remains “actively engaged in preparing for all potential outcomes regarding the company’s leadership structure”.

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