25 Moments that Mattered in 2015: To make our selection of 25 moments, we thought back to the stories that drove reader engagement and sparked discussion among both travel experts and the general public. Some stories were quick blips that represented bigger things while others were narratives that built slowly through out the year. Each one, though, spoke to where we are right now when it comes to the big business of global travel.
Every living being outside of United’s executive circles knew that CEO Jeff Smisek was quickly killing the airline, but it took a scandal involving a close ally of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to finally bring him down.
In October the airline announced his abrupt departure following an investigation into improprieties at Newark airport, and the appointment of railroad exec Oscar Munoz as the new CEO.
United’s employees moved quickly to cheer the ouster, with the machinist union boss saying, “The dedicated, hard-working employees at United deserve better than the questionable leadership Jeff Smisek provided.” Munoz did a quick tour of the airline, earning goodwill from employees after he offered frank assessments of the state of United. Munoz’s team-building exercises came to a halt following a heart attack, but not before engendering goodwill from its beleaguered staff. General Counsel Brett Hart, who had few ties to Smisek’s rule, is watching the airline until Munoz returns in January.
He’ll have some heavy lifting to do.
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Photo credit: Jeff Smisek, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Continental speaks during a news conference announcing the merger between Continental and United Airlines. Shannon Stapleton / Reuters