MIAMI — United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz is out of Northwestern Medicine’s Heart Transplant Program in Chicago, and is well on his way to recovery and progressing towards a return to the company in 2016. Munoz replaced the embattled Jeff Smisek in early September of 2015, but after just a month on the job, Munoz suffered a heart attack. However, and despite the immediate health challenges, United’s board of directors was optimistic enough about Munoz’s initial job performance and he was rewarded with a five-year employment contract.
After being released, Munoz sent out the following letter to employees:
To my United Family –
Greetings and Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday.
My family and I are deeply grateful for your thoughts and prayers. It’s given us strength and lifted our spirits.
I’m excited to let you know that today I’m headed to my Chicago home following my heart transplant. With the help of the amazing and caring team at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, I feel as strong as ever. My doctors have been impressed with my progress and foresee a quick recovery. I feel great, and it won’t be long before we are working side by side again. Until that time, I expect to participate in key meetings and be involved in strategic planning.
My new heart makes me feel like I’ve been given a new set of wings, and that reinforces my confidence that, with the wings we all share, we can soar in our quest to make United a great airline for our customers and a cherished place to work. I will be relying on this sense of team purpose as I transition back. We have some important decisions ahead of us, and we can move forward with the necessary boldness only if we have a shared trust, confidence and respect.
I know that a lot of you spent time away from family and friends these past few weeks getting our customers home to their loved ones. Thank you. Your hard work in the face of challenging conditions was exceptional, and our customers noticed. I couldn’t be more proud of what you did and am pleased to share that we received our highest customer satisfaction performance for the holiday period in more than three years! It’s a fantastic achievement.
As I thought about my return, I gave careful consideration to what greater things we can do together, and that has spurred my recovery. We’ve made a lot of positive changes these past few months thanks to your efforts. Take pride in these accomplishments and our success. Remember, even better days lie ahead if we stay focused on consistently earning our customers’ trust. Keep up the great work, and I look forward to seeing you soon.