Without mentioning anything about the circumstances that find him running the airline, United’s new CEO Oscar Munoz sent an email to MileagePlus members yesterday pledging, “We can do better, and will keep listening to our customers to become the top-performing airline.”
A week after assuming the CEO position after the departure of predecessor Jeff Smisek, Munoz promised that the airline would “focus on our customers;” foster teamwork among management and employees, and deliver on “innovation.”
“We are embracing the changes, and will continue to innovate with the goal of providing our customers better performance, service and products,” Munoz said.
On September 8, the day that Smisek resigned and Munoz’s first day on the job, United’s website crashed after a redesign. There is speculation that the airline could face fines and the potential indictment of officials for allegedly starting a flight from Newark Airport to Columbia, South Carolina to provide convenient transportation for the chairman of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to his weekend home in exchange for various services at Newark Airport.
United Continental Holdings, which came to be after the merger of United and Continental airlines in 2010, has been hampered with numerous outages and glitches related to the integration in ensuing years.
In July 2015, United and Southwest tied for the lowest on-time arrival rate, 73.5 percent, in July among U.S. commercial airlines tracked by the Department of Transportation.
Munoz, who most previously was the chief operating officer of rail operator CSX and a United Continental Holdings board member since the merger, is saying all the right things. But after years of poor performance, members of United’s loyalty program and other customers will want to see concrete results, not just the verbiage.
“My co-workers and I will work each and every day to earn your loyalty by holding true to these principles,” Munoz said. “We can do better, and will keep listening to our customers to become the top-performing airline. My goal is for you to be as proud to fly United as I am to lead United.”
Munoz will face massive challenges in trying to transform the culture and operations at one of the largest airlines in the world. Don’t expect any quick fixes.