Per a press release that just hit the wire, American’s president, Scott Kirby, has just resigned and taken a job as United’s president:
United Continental Holdings, Inc. (UAL) today announced that Scott Kirby has been named president of United Airlines. In this newly created role, Kirby will assume responsibility for United’s operations, marketing, sales, alliances, network planning and revenue management. Kirby’s appointment is effective immediately and he will report to Oscar Munoz, United’s CEO. Kirby joins United from American Airlines, where he held the title of president since the merger of American and US Airways in 2013.
“Scott is a proven leader, whose deep airline experience and expertise will further accelerate our efforts to build the best airline in the industry,” said Munoz. “Scott’s appointment, along with other recent leadership announcements, is the culmination of the formation of my senior leadership team. This is just the latest step in our mission to be an agile and innovative industry leader.”
Kirby is a well-known industry veteran, with a broad and accomplished three-decade airline career with senior leadership roles at America West and US Airways, where he was named president in 2006. Kirby started his career at the Pentagon and in the technology sector and earned bachelor degrees in computer science and operations research from the U.S. Air Force Academyand a Master of Science in operations research from George Washington University.
“I am honored to be joining United at this important and exciting time and to have the opportunity to help accelerate the momentum the airline has achieved over the past year,” said Kirby. “I see real opportunity to build on the airline’s vast global network and, along with my 86,000 United teammates, create the world’s best airline for employees, customers, and shareholders.”
WOW! Scott Kirby has been Doug Parker’s right hand man since the America West days, so this is huge news.
On the surface this doesn’t really seem like a promotion, since he’s going from being president of the world’s largest airline to being president of the world’s second largest airline. However, my guess is that he realized he probably won’t make it to the CEO position at American anytime soon. He has a similar management style to Doug Parker, so if investors continue to be happy, chances are that Doug Parker will stick around. If investors aren’t happy, chances are they won’t want Kirby in charge of the airline either.
I assume he sees more of a future as eventually becoming the CEO of United, once Oscar Munoz retires.
United flyers, get ready for some, ahem, “enhancements,” as the low cost carrier king is coming your way! Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for Scott Kirby, but he has long stayed true to his low cost carrier roots, so I wouldn’t expect that to change. I respect what he does for airlines, but just don’t love it as a customer.
On the plus side, I think Munoz is fantastic, so hopefully he can still keep the airline headed in the right direction. It’s certainly better than Smisek & Co., who were running the airline before.
What do you make of this announcement?