A Message from United CEO Scott Kirby
May 27, 2020
CHICAGO, May 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- J. Scott Kirby, Chief Executive Officer, today issued the following message to nearly 100,000 United Airlines (NASDAQ: UAL) employees:
In my message to you last week, I talked about doing everything in my power as CEO to make sure we are in a position to bounce back more quickly than any of our competitors once the virus is defeated and demand begins to recover.
That means we have to continue to plan for the worst. But at the same time, we also have to be prepared for the best. After all, the one thing I am absolutely confident in is that our customers want to fly again and reconnect with people and places around the world. And part of preparing for the best means thinking about the short-term adjustments that we have to make to get through the crisis as well as the long-term structural changes that will allow us to thrive once again.
So today, I am asking Greg Hart to take the lead on those big picture issues. During my tenure here at United, Greg has been the rock that I could always count on as our Chief Operations Officer (COO). Despite having hubs in the most difficult weather/ATC markets of any airline anywhere in the world, we moved to the top of the industry in all of the operational metrics. We also invested in the customer experience and have been making the largest, recent improvements in Customer Satisfaction of any airline in the country.
But being the COO of United is a tough, 24x7 job. Greg told me last year that he wanted to start preparing for retirement but he agreed to spend the next 12-18 months grooming his successors. And while none of us could have anticipated the COVID-19 crisis, it accelerates a need for leadership in new areas.
Specifically, I'm asking Greg to step back from his role as COO and instead focus on critical medium and long term issues - in particular, setting the stage for United to be the world leader in innovation with respect to safety, hygiene, and operating efficiency. Additionally, I'll be relying on him to continue his work on one of our most important objectives - developing strategies to allow flexibility in our cost structure, including labor costs. Our costs are not designed for the near-term uncertainty of travel demand. Demand could be down 30% or it could be down 70%. The way to best survive this crisis is to be able to nimbly adjust the size of the airline, including labor costs, to meet demand and importantly, be ready to bounce back quickly when the virus is defeated. We believe we are working on ideas that no other airline in the world is considering. Greg is uniquely qualified to be a leader not just for United, but in world-wide aviation, taking us all to the next level on these issues that are so critical to our future.
And so that means that it's time for other members of Greg's team to step up, in a way that is consistent with our succession planning, to help run the operation while Greg focuses on more broad, fundamental, structural changes to our business.
Jon Roitman, currently our Senior Vice President of Airport and Network Operations, will step into the role of Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Officer effective June 1. Jon is the embodiment of our core4 culture and no one has a better sense of the inner-workings of our operation. We've made some tough choices as an organization and even tougher decisions may come in the near-term, so it's more critical than ever that we have a leader of Jon's caliber waking up every day thinking solely about how we stay a step ahead of this virus and its impact on our operation. In addition to his current responsibilities, Jon will expand his role to include Flight Operations, Technical Operations and Safety. I am confident that Jon will rise to this challenge.
As part of these moves, Sarah Murphy, Senior Vice President of United Express, and Jan Krems, Vice President of Cargo, will move into Andrew Nocella's organization and Toby Enqvist, Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer, will report to Brett Hart.
There are tough times ahead. But there are also glimmers of hope – our schedule is expected to be down 75 percent in July, a slight improvement over May and June. While we can't quite see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, it's not pitch black in here anymore.
But there is more work to be done and I'm confident that today's leadership changes will put United in an even better position to drive our near-term, operational goals, while at the same time create an environment where we can fly past our competitors when demand returns.
Thank you for all you do every day to take care of our customers and one another.
Stay safe and we'll talk soon,
Scott Kirby, CEO
United's shared purpose is "Connecting People. Uniting the World." For more information, visit united.com, follow @United on Twitter and Instagram or connect on Facebook. The common stock of United's parent, United Airlines Holdings, Inc., is traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol "UAL".
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The Company's actual results could differ materially from these forward-looking statements due to numerous factors including, without limitation, the following: the Company's ability to execute its strategic operating plan, including its growth, revenue-generating and cost-control initiatives; general economic conditions (including interest rates, foreign currency exchange rates, investment or credit market conditions, crude oil prices, costs of aircraft fuel and energy refining capacity in relevant markets); risks of doing business globally, including instability and political developments that may impact its operations in certain countries; demand for travel and the impact that global economic and political conditions have on customer travel patterns; the Company's capacity decisions and the capacity decisions of its competitors; competitive pressures on pricing and on demand; changes in aircraft fuel prices; disruptions in the Company's supply of aircraft fuel; the Company's ability to cost-effectively hedge against increases in the price of aircraft fuel, if it decides to do so; the effects of any technology failures, cybersecurity or significant data breaches; disruptions to services provided by third-party service providers; potential reputational or other impact from adverse events involving the Company's aircraft or operations, the aircraft or operations of its regional carriers or its code share partners or the aircraft or operations of another airline; the Company's ability to attract and retain customers; the effects of any terrorist attacks, international hostilities or other security events, or the fear of such events; the mandatory grounding of aircraft in the Company's fleet; disruptions to the Company's regional network; the impact of regulatory, investigative and legal proceedings and legal compliance risks; the success of the Company's investments in other airlines, including in other parts of the world; industry consolidation or changes in airline alliances; the ability of other air carriers with whom the Company has alliances or partnerships to provide the services contemplated by the respective arrangements with such carriers; costs associated with any modification or termination of the Company's aircraft orders; disruptions in the availability of aircraft, parts or support from its suppliers; the Company's ability to maintain satisfactory labor relations and the results of any collective bargaining agreement process with its union groups; any disruptions to operations due to any potential actions by the Company's labor groups; labor costs; the existing outbreak of coronavirus and the outbreak of any other disease or similar public health threat that affects travel demand or travel behavior; the impact of any management changes; extended interruptions or disruptions in service at major airports where the Company operates; U.S. or foreign governmental legislation, regulation and other actions (including Open Skies agreements, environmental regulations and the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union); the seasonality of the airline industry; weather conditions; the costs and availability of aviation and other insurance; the costs and availability of financing; the Company's ability to maintain adequate liquidity; the Company's ability to comply with the terms of its various financing arrangements; the Company's ability to realize the full value of its intangible assets and long-lived assets; any impact to the Company's reputation or brand image and other risks and uncertainties set forth under Part I, Item 1A., "Risk Factors," of the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019 as well as other risks and uncertainties set forth from time to time in the reports it files with the SEC.
SOURCE United Airlines