Amid passenger-dragging fiasco, United CEO Oscar Munoz says he won't take chairman post

Facing furor after a United passenger was dragged off a sold-out plane, the chief executive for the carrier’s parent company has agreed not to take on the added role next year of chairman of the board.

Under a previous employment agreement, United Continental Holdings chief executive Oscar Munoz was scheduled to become chairman of the board next year, in addition to retaining his current position.

But in documents filed Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Munoz has agreed not to take on the chairmanship role, a post now held by Robert Milton.

In another filing with the SEC, the company says it wants to “ensure that Mr. Munoz is able to more exclusively focus on his role as chief executive officer. The board also believes that an independent chairman of the board can effectively manage the relationship between the board and the chief executive officer.”

The documents don’t specifically say that the changes are the result of pressure upon Munoz after a passenger, Dr. David Dao, was dragged off a sold-out plane in Chicago on April 9, in a scene that has become a worldwide viral video. Dao suffered a concussion and broken nose and lost two teeth. The carrier asked Dao and three other passengers to give up their seats to make room for United employees, but Dao refused.

A section in the SEC documents about employee compensation said the management and the board “take recent events extremely seriously” and are working to more closely tie future compensation incentives to “improving the customer experience.”

Executive bonuses were previously tied primarily to financial and operating goals, according to the documents.

Munoz, who took his current position in September 2015, last year earned a base salary of $1.25 million, plus stock awards and equity payments for a total compensation package of $18.7 million. The additional post of chairman was not expected to increase his salary, United officials said.

hugo.martin@latimes.com

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