United Airlines Announces Executive Departures

Three United Airlines executives left the company because of an investigation into whether unprofitable flights were added to suit NY/NJ Port Authority Chairman David Samson. The question is whether United executives exchanged flights to Samson's home for funding from the Port Authority.

The company gave this statement about the departures of CEO Jeff Smisek, the vice president of communications and government affairs, and the senior vice president of corporate and government affairs:

"The departures announced today are in connection with the company's previously disclosed internal investigation related to the federal investigation associated with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The investigations are ongoing and the company continues to cooperate with the government."

The statement was also part of a longer press release, which focused on newly appointed CEO Oscar Munoz. In a message to employees, Munoz expressed his hopes for the company's future.

Discussion Starters:

  • Assess United's press release and the CEO's message to employees. What are the communication objectives, and how well do these communications meet those objectives?
  • How do you think employees are reacting to the news? What else should the management team communicate internally? How should they reach employees throughout the company?