United Airlines Ushers In Scott Kirby As New CEO

After four years of holding the title of president of United Airlines, Scott Kirby will become the carrier’s chief executive tomorrow. The businessman has a reputation for his expertise in maximizing revenue through growth. Therefore, there are high expectations following the transition in leadership.

United Airlines A320
It is a crucial month for United as it makes some switches within the boardroom. Photo: Getty Images

Why the change?

In December, it was announced that Oscar Munoz will step down as CEO after over five years of handling the role. He has led United through some crucial periods, including the aftermath of the public relations nightmare that involved the dragging of Dr. David Dao on a United Express service in 2017.

Overcoming these events, he has helped the airline achieve record-breaking financial results over the last few years. His company reported a profit of $3 billion for 2019, up from $2.1 billion in 2018. Now, the charismatic professional will become the firm’s executive chairman, succeeding Jane Garvey, who is retiring from the board of directors.

Who is Scott Kirby?

As the current president of the company, Kirby also helped his colleague report strong annual profits. He has a long-term relationship with the aviation industry, which has helped him understand the market at all levels.

Scott Kirby
Kirby is a familiar face within the firm. Photo: United Airlines

Before joining United, he was the president of American Airlines between 2013 and 2016. Before that, the aviation specialist held key posts at America West and US Airways before they merged with American.

However, the 52-year old traces his experience back the 1980s, when he studied at the United States Air Force Academy, before training to become a pilot. This knowledge soon helped him become a budget analyst for the United States Secretary of Defense for three years.

CNBC reports that Kirby’s tenacity will be a massive asset for United in his new position. He believes that it is better to be too aggressive than not aggressive enough. This aggression comes into play when it comes to expanding and making cuts. The latter is something that United is going through in the current global climate.

Tough task on his hands

The global health crisis has rocked the aviation industry, and not many know that better than United. Kirby has been sure not to underplay the impact of the coronavirus pandemic since US services first started to be affected. Back in March, he understood that airlines are facing a far tougher challenge than the aftermath of 9/11 and the global recession of 2008.

United airlines aircraft parked
United will be keen to get its planes off the ground as soon as possible. Photo: Getty Images

Subsequently, the operator went into the second quarter while burning approximately $50 million each day. However, by the time this quarter is over, Kirby wants this figure to be between $40 million and $45 million. Moreover, he targets the burn rate to drop below $40 million a day during the third quarter.

With the airline’s flying schedule down by about 90%, the executive has some tough decisions on his hands. Moreover, if passenger activity is not up by the time government payroll aid expires in September, there could be job losses throughout the company.

The right man for the job

Nonetheless, with Kirby at the wheel and Munoz still supporting, United has strong leadership to steer the business back in the right direction. Additionally, Brett J. Hart is replacing Kirby as president, moving up from his roles as executive vice president and chief administrative officer. Therefore, United will be expected to show its intent to overcome the odds at its Annual Meeting of Shareholders tomorrow.

What are your thoughts on Scott Kirby as United’s new CEO? Do you see him doing well in his new role? Let us know what you think of the situation in the comment section.