United Airlines Appoints Brett J. Hart as President
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United Airlines Appoints Brett J. Hart as President

United Airlines Appoints Brett J. Hart as President

On May 20, 2020, Brett J. Hart appointed as the President of Chicago-based United Airlines. He is the first African American to become President in the airline’s 94-year history.

“I am honored and energized as I take on these new responsibilities to lead this incredible team that I am convinced will build United into a thriving industry leader,” Hart said. “The path forward will not be easy, but I am confident that Scott and I will continue our partnership to lead United through the extraordinary challenge posed by COVID-19. United’s bright future is only possible because of the commitment of the most talented airline professionals in the world who serve United and our customers every single day – and I could not be prouder of them."

Hailing from the southside of Chicago Brett J. Hart was educated at the University of Michigan and received a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Chicago Law School. Hart was a partner at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal in Chicago. Before that, he served as a special assistant to the general counsel at the U.S. Department of Treasury in Washington, D.C. Later he would go on to work for the Sara Lee Corporation as the executive vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary, where he directed global legal operations. 

Hart joined United Airlines in 2010, and has taken on a variety of significant strategic responsibilities for the company at critical moments – most notably in October 2015 when he served as interim CEO for six months while Munoz recovered from a heart transplant. Hart's promotion reflects United's commitment to leadership continuity and underscores the value of leveraging Hart's regulatory and strategic expertise, which complement Kirby's strong commercial acumen and industry experience.

As President of United, Hart will continue to lead the company’s public advocacy strategy, including the Government Affairs, Corporate Communications, Legal and Community Engagement teams. He will also continue to oversee business-critical functions like the Corporate Real Estate team and manage United’s industry-leading environmental sustainability efforts. His responsibilities will expand to include managing the Human Resources and Labor Relations teams.

Hart taking this position comes as he, along with other executives, are waiving their salaries for a time as the company struggles financially. Like others in the airline industry, United is trying to deal with the losses from COVID-19.

Kirby, United’s current CEO, said. “The leadership Brett has shown us we have managed the current crisis reinforces the conclusion I reached last year: Brett is exactly the leader that United needs right now to take on the role of President.”

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