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United Airlines’ new CEO Kirby takes the reins, aiming to ‘get through hell as quickly as possible’

May 19, 2020


United Airlines’ incoming CEO Scott Kirby doesn’t mince words.

“It’s far better to be too aggressive than not aggressive enough,” then-United’s president told a J.P. Morgan industry conference in early March, laying out a bleak picture of potentially sharp revenue declines, as the coronavirus was starting to disrupt everyday life in the U.S.

Weeks later, the pandemic dragged air travel demand down to the lowest levels since the 1950s and the country’s airlines, including United, posted their first losses in years. In quick succession, United announced a series of capacity cuts and idled hundreds of planes as Kirby and CEO Oscar Munoz warned of job cuts this fall if demand doesn’t return.

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