The Cranky Flier Interview: United CEO Oscar Munoz – Part 2

Across the Aisle Interviews, United

If you enjoyed the first part of my interviewThe Cranky Flier Interview with United CEO Oscar Munoz, you’ll be happy to know that the back half of our chat is now live.

In this 18m30s recording, we talk a lot about how Oscar built his management team, starting with former Allegiant President and now United CFO Andrew Levy. We also touched on Basic Economy and the operation at the end, but all too soon, Oscar’s time was up and our interview was over.

Download this episode (right click and save) or you can listen right here:

Thanks to Oscar and the United corp comm team for putting this all together.

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15 comments on “The Cranky Flier Interview: United CEO Oscar Munoz – Part 2

  1. United HAS the chance to be great – has for decades. If anyone can make it happen Oscar can. It must have been hard for him to sit there on the Board of Directors watching all of the “changes you’re gonna like” fiasco of Jeff Smisek and seeing the whole operation go hell in a hand basket. Mr. Munoz understands that the best way to make UA successful is to value and empower the people that make the whole operation run. People make the brand. Of course he needs to keep his finger on the pulse of the fiscal realities of running an airline but investing in people forms the best foundation to give United a chance to realize operational excellence.

  2. Glad you had so much time to meet with Oscar.  I fly United and when I ask about Oscar – evryone is very hopeful and feel he’s much better than his Jeff

  3. Hope he does better than the last guy. United and Continental merging was like Yugo and Mercedes Benz merging. I only fly United when I absolutely have NO other option. Horrible airline and have NEVER had even a remotely good experience flying with them.

    1. @ Frank:

      I think you should give them another try. Things really seem to be turning around, but still have a ways to go. Hopefully the new leadership brings some stability and they have an opportunity to execute their vision for the company.

      1. United was lousy after the merge with Continental.  Jeff smisek wasn’t a good choice claiming the merger was much better than it was.  United us much better now especially the hope Oscar has given his employees.

        Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

      1. A – If the occasional untranscripted podcast is preventing you from reading all the other content, then that’s pretty strange. I’m not going to do transcripts on these occasional podcasts, at least not for free. I’m contemplating some sort of premium member option that would include a transcript, but I’m not there yet.

        1. CF – just to clarify, what I meant is as follows:
          You have three (awesome) posts per week. If one of those is an untranscripted podcast, then for me it goes to 2 per week. Other sites like BoardingArea have 2 posts per hour. But I see your point and love the content, as always. Happy Holidays!

          1. A – As mentioned before, there will not be weekly podcasts. This will continue to be an occasional feature when I have interesting interviews worth publishing. I’m not sure why it’s relevant that other blogs post twice an hour. I’ve never done that nor do I plan to. It’s very easy to follow this site through email subscription or any news reader so you’ll be alerted when a new post goes live. It’s equally easy to delete an email or mark as read in your reader if it’s a post that doesn’t interest you.

  4. Another great “fireside leadership chat”. The candidness, informality, and lack of vetted-by-50-legal-and-PR-hacks vibe really comes through.

    If I were an employee at United I could really get behind leaders that speak and act like Oscar.

  5. While I am not a fan of the podcast format, an interview with a CEO of a global airline is worth my time. Congrats for gaining access to Mr. Muñoz.

    He is the best thing that has happened to UAL in a very long time and also understands powerful principles of leadership including having execs work as a team w/ each other and the UA team and in building on United’s core strengths – which run deep.

    I still am baffled at how much UAL is building an exec team that is based on people who have experience with low cost carriers and those that used low yield/volume strategies even at legacy carriers. Even Scott Kirby as much as he is praised as a revenue expert has never been in charge of the revenue/network dept. of a carrier that succeeded with a premium revenue strategy. Levy has experience as an entrepreneur (Oscar’s words) but ULCCs don’t have a track record of premium revenue.

    UAL’s potential is built on closing the RASM gap with Delta – United has repeatedly said that is its goal – and that won’t happen by using low fare carrier strategies or even with Basic Economy. United will succeed by widening the revenue advantage it has in key markets such as to Asia while also retaining and regaining premium revenue in highly competitive markets where UAL’s position has slipped including NYC, Chicago and LA. Polaris might help to Asia but domestic is where profits are right now.

    thanks for the final question about operations… UAL lost so much premium revenue because of its poor operation post-merger so getting United running well again is essential. They are clearly doing better and are generally outpacing American but UAL is not top tier according to DOT statistics.

    Perhaps the rah-rah efforts to the team are all about highlighting the progress that has been made, but customers do know where UAL performs and they will generate premium revenue for UAL when they believe United is delivering premium service.

    again, good interview. I am hopeful that Mr. Muñoz can return United to its previous grandeur.

  6. Excellent podcast supplying great insight and texture to Oscar Munoz thinking. United is definitely on the upswing across all metrics. I suspect it will take the next year or two to full execute on his current, creditable vision.
    Thanks again.

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