United Airlines appoints No. 2 job to Brett J. Hart

Hart takes on the role during dire times, as the airline industry has been hit hard during the pandemic.

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Brett J. Hart

United Airlines

United Airlines on Monday announced that effective May 20, Chief Administrative Officer Brett J. Hart will be appointed president and take on the number two leadership role at the Chicago-based airline.

Hart will be filling the shoes of Scott Kirby, who is moving up to become CEO in place of Oscar Munoz, who’ll be transitioning to executive chairman — a continuation of the company’s leadership succession plan that was announced in early December.

Hart has been with the company since 2010. In October 2015 he served as interim CEO for six months while Munoz recovered from a heart transplant.

Kirby, Hart and Munoz are waiving their salaries for a time as the company struggles financially during the pandemic, which has hit the airline industry hard.

United Airlines served notice to employees on May 4 that it will cut at least 3,400 management jobs, a minimum of 30% of its white-collar workforce, in a move that will take a bite out of its Chicago headquarters. The announcement came four days after United said it lost $1.7 billion in the first quarter.

United has applied for or received up to $9.5 billion in grants or loans, secured by warrants for stock to be issued to the Treasury Department. Some of the money is available under the CARES Act, which generally requires recipients not to cut workers’ hours.

But the airline has said that while the CARES Act protects workers through Sept. 30, it still has a gap of billions of dollars in losses, especially if demand does not pick up later this year. United is flying only 10% of its schedule.

In March 2019, United extended its lease of 850,000 square feet at Willis Tower until 2033.

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