United Airlines president Scott Kirby will assume the airline’s chief executive post from Oscar Munoz next May as part of a succession plan that will also see Munoz replace Jane Garvey as executive chairman of the board. Munoz, 60, replaced Jeff Smisek as CEO in September 2015 and led United’s recovery from a merger with Continental Airlines plagued by integration complications and customer service complaints.
"With United in a stronger position than ever, now is the right time to begin the process of passing the baton to a new leader," Munoz said in a statement. “One of my goals as CEO was to put in place a successful leadership transition for United Airlines. I brought Scott to United three years ago, and I am confident that there is no one in the world better equipped to lead United to even greater heights.”
Munoz recruited Kirby to become United’s president in August 2016. Kirby’s 30-year career in the commercial airline business included a term as president of American Airlines beginning with that airline’s merger with US Airways in 2013. He also worked in senior leadership positions at America West and US Airways, where he served as president from 2006 until its merger with American. Kirby started his career at the Pentagon and in the technology sector.
Under United’s transition plan, Munoz will serve as executive chairman for a one-year term and will continue to work closely with Kirby, said the airline. Meanwhile, United chairman Jane Garvey will retire from the board in May after more than a decade. She has served as chairman since May 2018 and has agreed to remain in her role for a year beyond the board's mandatory retirement age.