Oscar talks innovation, ATC modernization and a level playing field at U.S. aviation summit
Our CEO, Oscar Munoz, participated in a keynote discussion at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Aviation Summit today with Carol Hallett, counselor to the U.S. Chamber and former president and CEO of the Air Transport Association of America (now known as Airlines for America). He joined more than 800 experts and leaders from all sectors of the aviation community in discussing critical issues facing the industry.
Of the opportunities for jobs in aviation, he said he was "cautiously bullish" and "optimistic," noting the creation of tens of thousands of aviation-related jobs in a healthy and competitive global industry. During the conversation, Oscar compared the current state of air traffic control to "having a gravel road when we need a highway. You would never drive your Ferrari on a gravel road. We're very supportive as a company" of ATC reform.
He also highlighted United's approach to innovation, which he called "relevant innovation — what is relevant to us today that we can actively move forward." From providing tools that link employees above and below the wing to the information they need to better serve our customers, Oscar said, "Innovation is the key. It doesn't have to be something new and shiny and opulent, it has to be constantly forward thinking. We should march forward with technology, but create technology that is relevant today."
Of the planned launch this month of Emirates Airline's service from Athens, Greece to Newark, Oscar noted his fact-based approach to examining the evidence around massive government subsidization of the three state-owned Gulf carriers — Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates — and the harm this would cause to U.S. airlines and U.S. jobs. "Facts tend to overcome a lot of emotion and a lot of bias," Oscar said. "There are hundreds of thousands of employees who have been through hell and back in the history of the airline industry here in America, and all of a sudden in the last couple of years they're enjoying the benefits of an industry that's doing so well. To start edging away from that, and the potential for an un-level playing field and its competitive impact on their roles, you're going to have a huge uproar from Americans. If there's any question about where United stands, we are in the camp of supporting our people."