Chicago – After five years of the United Airlines, Inc (NYSE:UAL) and Continental Airlines merge, the recently appointed CEO Oscar Muñoz has admitted that the airline has failed to live up to the promise of its potential and that the 2010 merger had been poorly managed.
On his first interview since he took office on September 8, Muñoz stated he has been working to turn things around to improve operations and employee relationship along with regaining customers’ trust and satisfaction. Mr. Muñoz said on Thursday that the airline would change under his leadership, reported the New York Times.
“This integration has been rocky. Period” he said. “We just have to do that public mea culpa… The experience of our customers has not been what we want it to be,” said the 56-year-old Mr. Muñoz.
As a CEO, his main focus has been so far to meet with workers, seeking to win back their trust, whose morale has suffered and who have become increasingly vocal in their complaints about management. The former railroad executive pointed out that the way to improve customer service is to fix employee relations first.
He recalled that as a member of United Continental Holdings Inc. he “could have been more aware of how employers were feeling” referring to the level of discontent unknown until he started talking to some of the airline’s 84,000 employees.
“Our investment, our focus, our adulation is going to be focused on those people. Just letting them know that we do like what they do and we recognize it. And ensuring they get the things they have been lacking for some time” reported The New York Times.
Improving the company’s poor on-time rates, currently falling behind major airlines is one of Muñoz’s focus. Also he has decided to take the first steps towards a more open discussion with the public by launching a new website, UnitedAirtime.com, which now invites customers to give a feedback and updates flyers with the latest moves to meet concerns.
“Reliability has to be the first thing we do […] If we are getting people from point A to point B more reliably, consistently, that takes care of the bulk of the concerns of the people.” said Munoz as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The right foundations
Mr. Muñoz pointed out that many of United’s problems are self-inflicted and have a lot to do with structural barriers in the merge. The flight attendants who worked for United or Continental before the merger did not work under the same contract, which caused the airline to be unable to assign them to the same flights. The CEO is intending to change this, but said that unions had to come up with a common position first.
A future meeting with labor leaders has been scheduled for October 15 by the United chief executive, with the main priority of reaching new labor deals with United’s flight attendants and mechanics who continue to work under separate agreements from the two previous airlines.
5 thoughts on “Oscar Muñoz, United’s CEO Admits Company’s Mistakes”
First I have to say thank you for your apology. I worked for you about a year ago in Yuma AZ. I loved my job. Then one day we as other stations lost our jobs. Doors were closed. I hated to leave my Yuma International Airport family but it was that or becoming unemployed. It was said we were not profitable but the only reason for that was because our flights were taken from us. Besides US Airways we were the only other Airline out there. We served Yuma county, Imperial county, Mexicali Mexico, San Luis Mexico, Algodones Mexico. As you see your business was needed in the area. My supervisor who had been faithful for 35 years is out of a job and because of her love for her sick parents is stuck in that area. Please go back to Yuma AZ give her job back please return to our beautiful airport. Oh by the way the uniforms are bad in that area even in Philadelphia employees passed out. Thank you.
Would NOT fly united even if it were free.
@Ralph – Hello?? Anybody in there? Jeff Smisek hand picked most of the top management team who were all former Continental. This is still a Continental team running the show. They failed with the Continental program and technology. Perhaps because there are so many more moving parts at a combined mega carrier. They have nickel and dimed the passengers to the point of no return. Smisek made it known on CNBC that passengers didn’t deserve much from his airline unless they paid extra for it!!! That was his smug attitude and passengers knew it. And it was known internally that their (management) position was that they were happy being just behind number 2 in rankings because being 1st or 2nd was just too expensive! Planes were full anyway because there are just so many seats available out there. They chose the name United because it was a bigger airline with more presence around the World. United may have it’s day again, but this new guy might get tired quick. His has a huge mess to clean up and it won’t happen overnight.
I was a trusted Continental Airline customer for years. When Continental merged with United, I immediately noticed a decline in operations and attentiveness. The question I kept asking was, ” Why would a airline ranked 5 in the industry choose to use their name and operations in place of an airline ranked number one – it just never made sense to me. I assume that it was more to do with personality and politics and rational thought – now, my fears have been born out. Go with Continentals lead/ plan and not with United – simple answer