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Hart takes over leadership of United Airlines

United Continental Holdings has confirmed its president and chief executive officer, Oscar Munoz, is on medical leave following a heart attack he suffered on October 15th.

At this time, it is too soon to know the course of treatment and timing of recovery.

In the interim, the UAL board of directors has named Brett Hart, currently United’s executive vice president and general counsel, as acting chief executive.

This appointment is effective immediately.

In addition to serving as United’s general counsel, Hart has been responsible for government and regulatory affairs, corporate real estate, customer experience, corporate security, community affairs, contact centres and food services.

Prior to joining United in 2010, Hart served as executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary at Sara Lee, partner at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, and special assistant to the general counsel at the US department of treasury.

Hart will work closely with Henry Meyer, non-executive chairman of the board, and United’s experienced executive team to run the company in Munoz’s absence. 

“Brett has taken on increasing responsibility beyond general counsel over the last few years in the operations and customer facing areas of the company.

“I am confident in his ability to continue to implement the company’s strategy and Oscar’s mission of bringing United’s people together around the shared purpose of becoming the best airline for our customers and employees,” said Meyer.

The board of directors remains actively engaged in preparing for all potential outcomes regarding the company’s leadership structure.

“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,” said Hart.

“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.”