United CEO will be back to work next year after heart attack

United CEO will be back to work next year after heart attack

CHICAGO — After suffering a heart attack on Oct. 15, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz is on the mend and has confirmed plans to return to work sometime in the first quarter of 2016.

Munoz, 56, has been on medical leave, during which general counsel Brett J. Hart has taken over duties in his absence.

“My time away will be a little longer than I would like, but based upon discussion with my doctors I will be back in the first quarter,” Munoz said in a letter to employees released by the company.

Munoz had spent a month leading the Chicago-based United Continental Holdings before having the heart attack. He became CEO on Sept. 8 after Jeff Smisek was pushed out amid a federal investigation into the airline’s dealings with the government agency running one of its most important airports.

During his short tenure, Munoz acknowledged that United had failed its passengers with chronic delays and computer outages and that it had poor relations with its workers. He promised to fix both.

In what could be related news and a possible sign of good things to come, farecompare has confirmed with a United Airlines spokesperson that the carrier is handing out vouchers to travellers worth up to US$125 toward future flights for a number of specified reasons. These include bad customer/employee relations, problems with baggage, and a simple thank you earned by a flier who does or says something nice for a United employee.