United Airlines named Brett J. Hart its acting CEO

Image: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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The parent company of United Airlines has appointed Brett J. Hart its acting CEO effective immediately, four days after chief executive Oscar Munoz suffered a heart attack.

The appointment by the board of United Continental Holdings comes a month after Munoz, who is currently on medical leave, was named the airline’s CEO. Munoz came into the role following the departure of Jeff Smisek, who stepped down amid a federal probe into the airline’s relationship with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

In his short stint as CEO, Munos has worked to mend United’s image. He has been traveling to United’s hubs to speak with employees and has publicly apologized to customers for service disruptions after its 2010 merger with Continental Airlines.

“Oscar’s agenda is focused on customer service, teamwork and innovation and I, along with the executive team, will continue to move quickly to implement it,” Hart, who serves as United’s executive vice president and general counsel, said in a statement. “We believe strongly that we can continue to make steady progress on increasing shareholder value by working together to deliver a great product to our customers.”

Up until now, United Continental Holdings had been quiet on the nature of Munoz’s hospitalization, citing privacy concerns. The board was reportedly debating between naming an interim CEO or beginning a new CEO search altogether.

United is scheduled to report its quarterly earnings on Thursday.