New United Airlines CEO Suffers Heart Attack

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Last month, we broke news how United CEO Jeff Smisek Resigns and how Oscar Munoz would be appointed the new CEO of the airline. It turns out that Oscar Munoz suffered a heart attack this morning and more information will be provided within the next 24 hours on the severity of his condition.


Per the Wall Street Journal, Oscar Munoz, the new chief executive of United Continental Holdings Inc., suffered a heart attack Thursday and is being treated at a Chicago hospital, people familiar with the matter said—the second major leadership shock in recent weeks for the world’s second-largest airline by traffic.

United directors “are waiting to hear back from his family and his doctors” about the severity of the heart attack, one of the people said Friday. They hope to find out the information within the next 24 hours, the person said, and then decide whether the big airline needs an interim leader.

United said in a brief statement Friday that it had been “informed by Oscar’s family that he was admitted to the hospital on Thursday and we will provide further details as appropriate. In the meantime, we are continuing to operate normally.”

United directors were informed about Mr. Munoz’s heart attack starting Thursday night, the person said. “It could be a mild heart attack, and he could be back in two weeks,” the person said. Depending on how long Mr. Munoz is disabled, “there are a few [United] executives who could be interim [CEO] for a short period of time,” this person added.

Mr. Munoz, 56 years old, was named as CEO on Sept. 8 following the abrupt ouster of Jeff Smisek, who had been CEO since the airline was formed by a merger in 2010. Mr. Munoz was preparing to host his first quarterly earnings call as CEO on Oct. 22.


Bottom Line

Our thoughts and prayers are with Oscar and his family, though it will be interesting to see if he will return back to his role as CEO after this incident. Running an airline, such as United, is a daunting task and it seems like Munoz may have found this out the hard way.


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