I didn’t expect it to happen like this. Over the last few years, people have called for now-former United President, Chairman, and CEO Jeff Smisek’s head for a variety of reasons. There have been merger integration problems, lagging financial performance, operational issues… you name it. Yet it was a little old bribery scandal that, in the end, cost Smisek (and two other execs, Nene Foxhall and Mark Anderson) his job. Now, a United board member and industry outsider named Oscar Munoz is taking the reins. He has a unique opportunity to do great things. No pressure…
The news about Smisek’s firing was surprising. Yes, United had said it was announcing an investigation into the scandal, but I didn’t expect it would result in Smisek’s ouster. Which scandal was this? It involved dealings between the airline and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ). Which scandal involving the PANYNJ? Good question (though it’s pathetic that it has to be asked). In short, the chair of the PANYNJ, David Samson, had a place near Columbia, SC. He was angry he couldn’t fly there from Newark nonstop, so he leaned on Smisek and friends to bring that flight back, offering to fast track (or, uh, not block) some of their projects at Newark in exchange. Voila! Soon enough there was a flight to bring him down on Thursday and back on Monday. If you want full details, I’d suggest this Bloomberg article.
The PANYNJ has been under a great deal of scrutiny, and Samson himself resigned last year in the aftermath of the scandal where lanes were closed on the George Washington Bridge into New York as part of a political game. So I figured this whole thing would be heaped on Samson. The narrative could have shown that it was a pure shakedown. He blocked projects that would be good for Newark travelers, and United had no choice but to bow down to him. It would still have been illegal, but you’d think Smisek could have kept his job. Either the sordid details tell a very different story, or the board found this to be a good excuse to kick Smisek to the curb. Either way, we’ll know more in the coming months. But beyond a tabloid-y sense of curiosity, this doesn’t interest me all that much. Smisek is gone. What’s most interesting is what happens next.
United could have gone with someone inside the airline, or it could have found someone at another carrier, but clearly neither of those options worked for the board. Instead, they nominated themselves to take on the challenge. One of the board members, Henry Meyer will become the non-executive Chairman. Another board member, Oscar Munoz, will become President and CEO. All I could think of was this…
This sounds like something we’ve seen many times before. Someone from the board steps in on an interim basis until a long term solution is found. But I’m told this is no temporary move. Oscar, as he signed his letter to the troops, is the person to lead this airline into the future. (Just assume that if he does a bad job, the airline will backtrack and say he was always meant to be interim.)
Oscar has been on the board since 2004 (well, back then it was Continental’s board), but he hasn’t worked in the airline industry. He’s spent the last dozen years working at CSX, the railroad company. Just this year he became President, but the allure of United was enough to have him walk away from that. Though he’s on United’s board, he doesn’t know all the details of how an airline works. He doesn’t even know the details of how United works. When someone asked on the conference call yesterday whether this would impact the slot deal with Delta at JFK, he stumbled and didn’t seem to be familiar with it.
That shouldn’t really be a concern. It is a handicap in that it means there’s a greater ramp-up time, but that’s ok if he builds his executive team properly. For that reason, what he does in the first few months will matter a great deal.
One thing that’s been blindingly clear over the last few years is that United has a culture problem. I wrote about the “Continental vs United” issue a year ago and received a strong response from employees who agreed completely. Smisek was never a people-person. He only wanted to be out there as much as he had to, and that is not what United needed. Oscar appears to be different.
Oscar said he was planning on spending his first 90 days doing “direct and personal” outreach. He’s going to travel the system and learn the problems first-hand from the front line. This isn’t the first time he’s done it. He did this at CSX as well. It might sound like an old campaign trick, but you know what? It’s what United needs. Oscar may not know the airline business as well as others who have worked in it for years, but that has nothing to do with his ability to fix relationships and start repairing the culture.
After all, he did have labor relations under him at CSX, and railroads operate under the same strange labor laws that govern the airlines. Apparently he did it well. Even United pilots MEC chairman Jay Heppner said in a press release that Oscar has “a track record of working with labor on many levels.” Combine that with what you’d hope is a natural ability to connect with people (if not, they should stop giving him opportunities to do it) and you have something United has desperately lacked for years. I believe the last time United had a top exec who really had a good rapport with people was when Jerry Greenwald ran the show. He left in 1999. (Continental, of course, was a different story.)
In his first message to the troops, which you can read in its entirety here, Oscar certainly struck a different tone than what you’d expect to see from United in the past. He seems more conversational, more relatable, and really, more interested in being relatable. He talked about the importance of focusing on customers, teamwork, and innovation. This, of course, is all just talk, but at least he’s saying the right things. Now he just needs to show that he’s a man of action.
The employees of United have had a long and painful few years. Oscar may be someone who can help end that streak, but he can’t magically fix the airline overnight. He needs to surround himself with the right people who can actually run the business. I’m going to be watching closely to see what kind of moves are made at the top, since it’s the composition of his executive team that will make or break his tenure at United. I’d hope that in the first few months, we’ll see some big changes.
I’m naturally skeptical, but I want to be optimistic. Can this guy really come in from outside the industry and transform the airline? Good luck, buddy. But after so many years of things not going right, United employees, customers, and Wall St are ready and willing to be led in a new direction. It doesn’t happen often that all stakeholders are on the same page, so hopefully Oscar can taken advantage of this very unique situation and do some good.
[Original wienermobile photo by Cory Doctorow from London, UK [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons]
Another interesting airline angle: Chertoff of naked body scanner infamy is Samson’s attorney now. Some good intra-government violence amongst plundering attorneys Samson, Smisek, Chertoff and Christie. A classic American tale.
CF- “One thing that’s been blindingly clear over the last few years is that United has a culture problem”. Now that is an understatement. It’s been known that there was a problem with Continental that was compounded by its union with United (i know this won’t please either side but I think it is). For all the ‘we’ll instill [fill in the blank] about the Continental culture’ the reality finally comes to the surface and this is just the beginning. I’ve known that the culture at continental was a lot of puff. oh the stories.
As a recently retired United/CAL (mainly CAL) employee, I can guarantee you that the culture at Continental was real and enjoyed by its employees. The reasons for the poisoned culture at United now are vast, complicated, simple, easily explained, and hard to explain, all at once, it seems. But I am telling you that the good, positive, can-do attitude that culminated in the feeling of pride and “can’t wait to get to work” was real. I am truly sorry that the chance to join in was not taken up your side; I think you would have enjoyed it.
btw, are you calling the new guys ‘winnies’ :-)….perhaps thats a better label for JS…chief winnie officer.
I wish Mr Munoz luck in his new position. There are many of us business flyers who have been fans of Continental, but that changed when Smisek took over. He replaced someone who cared greatly about their customers, while Smisek cared only about the shareholders. Somehow, he missed the memo that treating your customers poorly willl hurt your shareholders. I have heard United employees say that if Smisek could figure out how to make money without passengers he would.
Mr Munoz has a great opportunity to change the culture and improve employee morale. Imagine how the employees feel when they get the wrath of pissed off customers for decisions they have nothing to do with. Given a chance, I feel the employees would embrace a new way of thinking at Untied.
Good Luck Mr Munoz – I am rooting for you!
“luck”, the kitchen sink, and anything else he can throw at it. i think he and crew appreciate the “i am rooting for you!” sentiment. IMO, it’s just a huge undertaking. imagine, they have an ongoing federal and “internal” investigation, a quaterly report coming-up, a incredulous investment community, an operation to run, a huge (employee-wise) contract to settle, a group of JS aligned employees in fear and in flight or fight (within) mode, non JS aligned groups to convince/influence to fight-on in right direction. What does he have to work with, JS picked VPs and executives, who may be jumping ship soon. In airline terms this plane has been flown into extreme turbulence and it requires the skill of an excellent pilot and crew. I do hope they make it.
Usually in a situation like this there will be a little breathing room. I’d also expect that Munoz has or will have shortly had chats with all of the senior executives.
nick – i’d like to hear what you mean by “breathing room”. btw, your comments are more sane, so i’m reading them.
IO, its more a matter of people (employees, analysts, vendors, etc.) will stop and say, well whats the new guy going to do? He just got the reins of the company, so people will start by looking at what he’s doing and judge him on that. Folks get that Munoz isn’t JS, and will want to see what he does.
makes sense. we’ll see.
In Australian slang, “rooting” means something else. But I’m sure he would appreciate it nonetheless.
“Transforming United into a premier global railroad” – The new tagline of United under Munoz. Then you’ll hear that they’re converting all remaining 787 order to locomotives.
Could this have been the long term goal of their Amtrak partnership?
Ironic isn’t it? Brett, a few months ago you posted about flights between Newark & Atlantic City as part of a deal between United & the Port Authority with a few other elements I cant recall at the moment. You thought how strange it was to have such a short hop route since it wouldn’t make money.
But of course this is New Jersey where state corruption is so thick & heavy, it has found it’s way into condo associations. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Jeff Smisek got caught playing that game.
Sean, corruption in NJ? Next you are going to say that there is gambling in Vegas!
SEAN – I don’t actually remember writing about the Atlantic City service. That’s all part of this twisted relationship between United and the overlords in Jersey.
Get Gordon Bethune and some of his “From Worst to First” Team to bring United back up to (what was) Continentals outstanding employee relations, product and service.
JS and sCO crew were it. I don’t mean to be a jerk but that was a selling point. GB hired JS. JS mentioned being there at and during the “transformation” from “worst to first”.
That’s why I said “some” of his team. There were excellent people besides JS.
I mean, why not bring back Larry Kellner? He was a derpy looking dude and I didn’t appreciate him in the safety videos, but he was definitely Bethune’s chosen successor – got rid of him because he thought the merger with UA was a bad idea, right? Bethune is retired on a beach somewhere, but I think Kellner would be a great option.
I think there is a good reason he left, and i don’t know that i agre that “got rid of him”. it probably was more like he wanted to leave a sinking ship. he also gave JS his stamp of approval.
which excellent people are you referring to. a great deal of the top, specially executive vps such as zane (cfo)/J. compton (revenue)/ HR guy etc. came from sCO. Other important top people were from sUA, the COO and CIO. I just don’t see it who. LK, the likelihood of him coming back are slim, IMO. Why would he take a job he left or refused to take (i.e. union of CO/UA). Gordon is old.
Bethune was very successfull because he gave his employees pay raises every year( making up for the 50% pay cuts Lorenzo implemented in the 80’s).
That strategy is difficult if not impossible to repeat.
I’m sure that was part of it.. But people also want to be heard.
PF – There’s a right time and a right place for every CEO and Gordon’s time has passed. The expectations would be so absurdly high that he’d never be able to meet them. I think he’d be crazy to come back.
CF – “the expectations would be so absurdly high”…by that same token would you not think that Mr. Munoz would have a tough time meeting them?
IO – Not at all. The expectations today are that this guy knows nothing about the airlines and will fail because of that.
Yeah its more that Bethune has had a great first act at Continental and folks will expect he’ll come in and wave a magic wand and fix everything quickly.
As CF says, Munoz has lower expectations.
maybe from CO side. sUA side, i think, pride themselves in their sophistication and thus their expectations may be extremely high. generally, sCO were more tolerant.
Well, I guess we’re probably agreed that this is a classic case of “any change is an improvement.” UA has (mostly) nowhere to go but up. The thing is, a manager can only be as successful as the layers of management and frontline employees below him/her. There will no doubt have to be a lot more personnel changes at the top before things start to improve enough for anyone (customers and stockholders included) to notice. That’ll mean disruption for awhile, but things are already so disjointed at UA, I doubt it’d make much difference to customers. Personally, I switched my business to AA several years ago. My experience with AA is that the service is indifferent, but at least not spastic as UA has become.
problem i see is that the extra disruption maybe too much. sort-of like you are way to much over the cliff and all it takes is a minor push or slight wind to push one over to the abyss. alternatively, an able and willing strong hand on a strong foundation may pull them out, IMO.
For the sake of UA customers and my former colleagues I wish him all the best. From what I understand, the news was greeted with euphoria in crew lounges, break rooms and offices. The WSJ had 2 pieces on the Fall of Jeff and Oscar-Meyer ( I LOVE THAT).
A positive note on this regime change is they are managing expectations. Externally and (from what I hear) internally this is a change at the helm but business as usual. Labor leaders & employees have been advised of system wide listening tours and I suspect high value customers will be invited into the forum. This will not be the US Presidental style First 90 Days style overhaul optimists were praying for. More like a whistle stop tour to gather facts and try to extract truth from hyperbole.
IMHO a huge cultural overhaul is sorely needed to keep UA viable….and that’s a tall order. Long before the merger and Jeff there was a “walking on eggshells” culture that was focused on deflecting and assigning blame rather than building consensus and solving problems. The merger and leadership of the past 5 years simply brought the dysfunction out of the shadows.
Wouldn’t you now love to be the UA FA or gate agent who tells “SMI/J” (boarding a flight using his lifetime positive space flight benefits perk) that “first class is full, but we have a nice middle seat for you in coach waaay in the back”? C’mon UA folks, he’s no longer your boss–stick it to him! What is he going to do, whine to Munoz?
LOL – of course we plan on doing that but if Mr. Smi-sick is in his right mind, he won’t set foot on a UA flight, now or ever.
I don’t want to shoot Mr. Munoz down but his initial statements other than “teamwork” (the usual psychobabel), doesn’t say anything about restoring employee morale. Will he turn this around from CO’s style of thinking and “running” an airline ? Can he carry the ball or at least throw it in a better direction ? Only time will tell. And please, Mr. Munoz, don’t mess with our pass-travel benefits !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
so how do he attach the back of the bus (no ill intended) to the cockpit?
I would suggest you give Munoz a chance. After all your career, future paycheck and those retiree travel benefits depend on it. You should be a big supporter of United and the new leadership. Are you part of the problem or part of some solution? Give them a break before you shoot them down.
I will give him a chance. With all due respect, my post was not mean’t to be negative but rather realistic. Been with United close to 40 years and have seen good and not so good leaders come and go….bankruptcy, strikes, etc. My doubts lie with the fact that Munoz was on the B.O.D. of Continental so does he reflect only their mindset or does he have an open mind to really address employees’ issues (which are many) ? All we ask is that he give us a chance as well, something that was not done when the merger happened. Either way, I’m in for the duration….we shall see what happens. I’m dreaming but I wish he was a guy that would turn things around 360 degrees like keep JFK open, reverse outsourcing and closing of HNL and DTW reservations offices, etc. Let us, the employees, prove to him what United Airlines can be !
Perhaps a 180 instead of a 360? A 360 leaves you going the same direction you started in. /pedantic.
Pleased to hear you will give him a chance. With regards to the JFK issue, think this through. UA has/had service to only LAX and SFO, while down the road they have a big hub in EWR. Shouldn’t they move aircraft into a location to support the beyond EWR flying, to Europe, long haul South America and the Middle East, as opposed to an airport with no other flying from United.
I don’t know what premium customers would pay to fly into JFK, but it is clear that it is less than the customers wanting to go beyond New York.
I’m sure he will be flying Delta or AA. I believe they still honor board members flight benefits for life.
maybe then he’ll use some of the nicknames y’all gave him :-).
Eric – do you think the euphoria is more for who is leaving than who is coming and the hope along with it?
Also, IMO, the “listening tours” will take time and unless he’s drinking NOZ or red bull then this and his other responsibilities will wear him down. I hope he has the stamina.
Actually some Adderall would work much better. :) Seriously, I wish him the best of luck. Many times in corporate America when new management is brought in quickly like this (and old management is forced out) there are two factions to deal with — those that support new management and those that don’t (and likely received preferential treatment from the old management team). If this is the case at United, Mr. Munoz may have one rough road to travel and could even be run out of the company if those that supported Mr. Smisek still have enough power in the company (and are conniving enough to use that power).
looks like you’ve been around
It never ceases to amaze me that when executive types are forced out due to illegal activities, they still get a significant “parting gift” to take with them. In Smisek’s case, a cash payout of $4.9MM and almost $4MM in stock. Why industries continue to reward executives who leave under duress is beyond my understanding!
I wonder if there is a clawback in this somewhere. Right now he hasn’t been convicted of doing anything illegal, so I’d bet that if they didn’t give him the “parting gift” Smisek would be promptly filing a lawsuit.
Nick-Yeppers there is clawback clause-Smisek could lose it all.
Ah if Smisek is smart he’ll either leave the country or hold some of the “parting gift” aside.
Here’s the 8-K talking about Smisek’s severance for those who are interested.
I wish I hadn’t looked. This sort of thing makes me sick. I would never advocate for anarchy but this level of rich getting richer on the backs of working class Americans is something we need to open our eyes to and vote to make changes.
Hopefully this will help provide a much needed morale boost right away.
Also, that is some sick photoshopping. ;)
it occurred to me that it may be bliss or bust.
Sad that the United CEO left in this manner but hope united employee morale improves as well as customer service. I did liked seeing Smisek talk at the beginning of safety messages about all the good things happening while “United” was failing to have happy passengers and all the changes made matters worse.
there is a good write-up from a pax perspective here….http://www.tablegroup.com/blog/the-dangers-of-dishonest-marketing
it is titled “The Dangers of Dishonest Marketing”.
an interesting quote from the article “people want honesty, clarity, and even vulnerability”. i simply did not get a sense of utter honesty, clarity or vulnerability in the conference call. i know they had to be careful with what they said about the ongoing investigation. however, they seemed unprepared for question that were obvious.
As a United employee in an operational role, I was also shocked but invigorated by the news. We have long talks about our problems as an airline, most of which are focused around our culture. United’s identity is broken or even nonexistent. The biggest failure of the merger was not the IT issues or snail pace of basic policy integration, but that no true effort was given to create a new identity for the employees to grasp onto. With a change in leadership, there is at least hope that more focus will be put on creating a place where people are proud to work at.
you know what this looked like to outsiders. the cockpit crew (i.e. top mgt) going in one/its direction and the back of the bus (labor) going in its own different direction. the cockpit crashed and how do you get the back of the bus to re-attach?
Oh, c’mon, if anyone actually thinks Samson and the PANYNJ caused Smisek’s downfall, you haven’t followed airlines. Smisek had no credibility left after repeatedly claiming improvements in United’s financial and operational performance that never materialized. It’s a sign of a weak board that they couldn’t pull the trigger based on his inability to see the merger through and catch United up to Delta and apparently now soon also American. The government inquiry is the fig leaf/excuse the board needed to preempt Smisek’s legal team from riding roughshod over them.
As to Mr. Munoz – since he’s been a yearlong member of a board that apparently shit its collective pants in fear/reverence of Mr. Smisek, I would’ve thought a firm leader who can push through his/her vision might’ve been more what that organization needs at this point. It’s beneficial though that he’s got history at CSX, which runs a large commodities and cattle transport operation. That at least makes for a good match with United passage.
No, this scandal is to Jeff Smisek as tax evasion was to Al Capone.
Who knows what the board meetings looked like? Munoz might have been railing for Smisek to leave or be pushed out for years now, but perhaps he couldn’t get a majority of the board on that side…
Very true. Munoz was picked to be a board memeber back before the merger.
he can now plead ignorance which, imo, can be interpreted as clean slate (ala politician claiming not from washington) or as someone out of touch and not fulfilling his responsibilites. or he can plead knowledge of industry which can be interpreted as why did you not do something long ago or full of baggage.
i simply don’t agree. this are handpicked boardmembers that had not acted. to me the reason the board acted is because they want to lessen the degree and number of scandals that are made public. imo, that’s the cause of his firing. a couple of supporting points.
– inaction after several misteps
– JS is a lawyer and for the longest knew how to walk and create the line.
– they thought they were too sophisticated to get caught
– do you really believe that, with a good lawyer, and the circumstances they could not spin this and minimize it?
– do you think JS did not go down kicking and screaming?
What percentage of board members came from UA and which came from CO before JS was in the driver’s seat?
Sent from my computer that moonlights as a phone.
Gerald Grinstein was the CEO of the Burlington Northern Railway (predecessor of BNSF) before taking the same job with Delta. He didn’t do too badly,
DesertGhost – Grinstein also ran Western Airlines before the merger with Delta so he certainly had a deeper understanding of the industry.
And Leo Mullin was with Conrail years before he was at Delta.
Leo, if i recall, was at a utility company right before DL. and you know how that went. don’t you.
I don’t have much of a dog in this fight. (I’ve flown United a few times, was unimpressed, but I’m not that frequent of a flier.)
I do note the similarities to Bethune… Folks forget that he was an outsider to the airline business, having worked at Boeing but not at an airline before he joined Boeing. Continental was also limping along from a few poorly executed mergers.
At this point Munoz is saying the right things, and given that he’s been on the job for two days, that is about all we can expect.
It’ll be interesting to watch.
Although I’m curious if there is some low hanging fruit to take care of such as the holding company’s name United Continental Holdings. IMO this was one of the first signs of the poor handling of the merger. Delta never had that oddity, and American went from AMR and USAirways Group to American Airlines Group. The signal at the top was never sent that this was one airline. I’m sure if I looked this is just one of the instances where management had some low hanging fruit to communicate “we’re one airline” and instead the easy division was handled.
(A Random aside, is the publicly traded company of Delta the airline? Versus AA and UA having the holding company be the entity that is traded?)
Nick – Bethune did work at an airline. I think it was Piedmont. I think I read in his book that it being sold under them caused his move to Boeing, i think.
IO, you’re right.. I forgot about that. Per Wikipedia:
He worked at Braniff International Airways <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braniff_International_Airways>, Western Airlines <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Airlines>, and Piedmont Airlines <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piedmont_Airlines> in Maintenance at the first two, and Operations at Piedmont. This explains why he was so hard on the maintenance guys.
Munoz came up on the financial side of things, but he was the Chief Operations Officer at CSX. He’s got a fighting chance of turning this downhill runaway train around.
i don’t think it was Branniff, unless earlier than Piedmont which was the airlined the old, old, old USAirways bought. Wikipedia may need to be updated.
good point on the UACO holdings name. a jewish proverb says that a double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
To Whom it May Concern:
As a former long-term employee(25+ years)of United , having escaped their clutches and eventually wound up as a railroader with a fantastic job, I am interested in knowing what “strange labor laws” you are referring to.The “strange labor laws” I worked under governed hours of service, personal injury liability and safety. My union represented job brought me the best salary and benefits of any employer. Much better than United could ever offer. The railroad I worked for has never been bankrupt either.
An attitude like that is certainly not going to help anyone’s cause.
United Airlines attitude toward organized labor is well known and it has cost them dearly. But sadly, like some in our government, United fails to heed the lessons of history and has repeated the errors. Just pray that this former railroad exec is not one more in the endless parade of buffoons heading United since George Keck.
jjm9966 – The strange labor law that governs both railroad and airline employees is the Railway Labor Act. With contracts that never expire, these rules are indeed strange compared to most other industries.
It’s bizarre that the President can order striking airline workers back to work, something Clinton managed to do twice.
I am a retiree from United. My last working day was 9/11. The biggest problems that need to be fixed is the split between UA and CO. Its been over 5 yrs since the so called merger and they still refer to all employees as sub-united and sub-continental. There is not a lot left of the original United. Most all the policies in effect are Continental. Most of the executives left are originally Continental. The computer system is the old continental dos system that came from eastern airlines in 1979. They have been dragging their feet with gettting the contract with united flight attendants. (the flight attendants can only fly what they call CO or UA metal. Planes owned by the original airline.) Smisick has been farming out jobs to 7.00 to 900 dollars an hour companies. The money he saved went into his salary. Gorden B’s moto was happy employee result in happy customers. The true fact, this was a takeover not a merger.
takeover which way?
the firing came to me as a shock. here was a man who seemed to have all the advantages, except the results. a hand-picked board, a stamp of approval from GB, LK, and GT, all 3 top titles, an economics degree and lawyer degree from an ivy schools, married to an economics professor, monetary resources at his disposal, goodwill from a company perceived as having great customer service, move to a city thought of as very cosmopolitan and with Universities with good reputation. all for naught as reality was exposed by a simple deal. the sophisticated taken down by simple stuff. funny stuff ha. a jewish proverb says that God uses the small and foolish to shame the wise.
It was a Continental takeover and a sellout by United exec’s. They all took their money and stocks and ran. Why did 5 yrs pass and Smisick did not have the two companies as one. It wasn’t his plan to do it. He kept pitting one employee against another and did not lead or once come out and say it was one company.
I know almost nothing about Oscar Munoz, but I’m concerned that the airline business has become too complicated for an outsider to step in at the top. Like I think about the remarkable things that Doug Parker has accomplished by living and breathing airlines for his entire professional carrier. I just can’t believe somebody like Munoz — even if he turns out to be a great leader and fast learner — can reach that level of competence anytime soon. Seems like a huge disadvantage to me to have inexperienced management. If I were AA, DL or WN, I’d be thrilled by this appointment.
iahphx – good point “disadvantage to me to have inexperienced management. If I were AA, DL or WN, I’d be thrilled by this appointment.” what are your thoughts of who the buyers would be if UA goes BK. I see VA, JB, WN buying/entering domestic and latin routes while DL fight over PAC. I don’t know about ATL routes. DL aligns virgin and AF et.al while AA aligns with BA et.al.
so who is the biggest beneficiary of this blunder? me thinks DL. even with NWA takeover it’s route system is seen as below that of UA. will the 900 pound gorilla be able to defend or go on the offensive?
White collar management can do anything legal or illegal and its called good business decisions and they get away with it . Never are they prosecuted or do they do jail time. If you’ll look back to the 80’s and Frank Lorenzo, you’ll remember how he literality raped Eastern Airlines and stole all their assets. After this he took them into bankruptcy and eventually out of business. He never was prosecuted and where is he today ?
No one knows but I’m sure he’s out there enjoying life on the millions he made stealing from a company.
Oh yes – he was also a graduate of Harvard like Mr. Smisek and I wonder if this is what Harvard teaches
its students. Do whatever you need to do to make a nice living for yourself. Legal or illegal !
At the same time instead of Mr. Smisek going to court, he exits United Airlines with millions in cash and
other benefits. What is wrong with that scene ?
The biggest problem Munoz will have i merging these airlines. Get that done and there’s hope.