United CEO won't add chairman title in 2018 as was planned

Robyn Valdez
April 23, 2017

Lawyers for the passenger forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight to make way for crew have filed an emergency court request for the airline to "preserve and protect" evidence.

But United said on Friday in a securities filing that management and the board "take recent events extremely seriously" and will link executive bonuses partly to "improving the customer experience".

Maintaining an independent chairman "is a means to ensure that Mr. Munoz is able to more exclusively focus on his role as chief executive officer", United Continental Holdings Inc. said in a regulatory filing Friday.

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Chief Executive Officer of United Airlines Oscar Munoz introduces a new global business class dubbed United Polaris in New York June 2, 2016. There were calls on the social media of a total boycott of United Airlines.

As part of Friday's disclosure, United also released its annual compensation figures for its top executives. Munoz later apologized repeatedly for United's handling of the situation.

The US Senate Commerce Committee even sent a letter to United after the incident, asking about their policy of removing passengers because of overbooked flights. Munoz wrote that he was "personally committed to putting proof behind our promise" in United's commitment to reforms.Committee leaders said in a joint statement that getting answers about what happened and how to prevent a recurrence was a "priority" and any further delay was "unacceptable".

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Munoz is now a member of the board and was scheduled to take on the role of chairman at the company's 2018 annual stockholder meeting. It is expected by the end of next week. Munoz, who became United's CEO in September 2015, was originally supposed to become chairman in 2017.

The airline has made some strides in improving its on-time performance, canceling fewer flights and losing fewer bags, but it still generally ranks poorly in surveys of airline travelers.

Munoz earned $18.7 million a year ago as he collected a multimillion-dollar signing award. He already agreed previous year to delay becoming chairman, after the board was revamped as part of a deal with two activist shareholders.

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