A message from Oscar celebrating Women's History Month
The Wright Brothers — of course, everyone has heard of them; their names are synonymous with the invention of flight.
Yet, few people know that there was also a Wright Sister: Katharine Wright.
"If ever the world thinks of us in connection with aviation," said her brother Wilbur, "it must remember our sister." Katharine played an important role in her brothers' success, and she became one of the first women ever to fly, all while taking a leading role in the women's suffrage movement of the era.
Yet, as is too often the case, the enormous contributions that women like Katharine have played in the history of aviation become eclipsed in our memory. In addition to Katharine Wright, pioneers such as Blanche Scott, Bessie Coleman, and Amelia Earhart — among so many others — helped push humanity into the skies and further toward equality.
As America observes Women's History Month in March, we at United also celebrate the unique part we've played in the story of women in aviation. For example, it was an intrepid young reporter for the Chicago Herald-Examiner named Jane Eads who, on July 2, 1927, boarded a flight from Chicago to San Francisco. That flight would make her America's first official airline passenger, as well as the very first passenger of a carrier service that would eventually become United Airlines.
It was a woman named Ada Brown Greenfield, hired by United Airlines in 1940 as a flight attendant, who successfully organized her colleagues to form the world's first union of flight attendants. That organization has grown in to the Association of Flight Attendants that represents the interests of more than 50,000 airline professionals across the industry.
And it was a United Airlines pilot named M'Lis Ward who broke another barrier in aviation to become the first African American woman to earn the status of captain of a major US airline.
These women were not just pioneers of flight, but of social equality and progress as well.
Despite the vital role that women have played in the aviation and airline industry, there are still too few young women who choose to pursue careers in the field. We are determined to change that and make sure that more young women see the exciting future they can forge in this cutting-edge industry. That's why each year women in positions of leadership throughout the United family dedicate their time and talents in an effort to inspire the next generation of girls to explore their interests in the aviation field.
Our focus on recruiting, retaining, and empowering the talented women of our industry is an imperative and ongoing mission. It is one that has shown great success, especially thanks to the inspiring efforts of such accomplished aviators as Captain Bebe O'Neil, our Chief Pilot in Houston. "As a little girl, I watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon," says Captain O'Neil. "It left such an indelible impression on me when they said he was an aerospace engineer and naval aviator, and it got me interested in aviation since childhood."
Neil Armstrong may have taken one small step for a man, but he inspired a lifelong path for Bebe as a young woman. Now, she is dedicated to inspiring and empowering a new generation of young women to reach for the skies.
We all have further to go before each of our sisters and daughters have the same opportunities for success as their brothers and sons. In whatever field their passion and talents lead them, we ought to take this month to rededicate ourselves to ensuring that the skies are truly the limit for young women everywhere.
Oscar Munoz, CEO, United Airlines
In the midst of mobilizing our cargo operations, our teams at New York/Newark (EWR) and Jacksonville (JAX) stepped in to assist Roche Diagnostics with transporting a vital component for an instrument being used for COVID-19 testing.
The component was stuck at EWR en route to the Mayo Clinic in Florida after another airline's flights were cancelled. A Roche employee contacted us asking for help and, within a few hours, our teams had the piece loaded onto a Jacksonville-bound aircraft, with arrangements in place to deliver it to the Mayo Clinic.
The item we shipped will allow the Mayo Clinic in Florida to process hundreds of COVID-19 tests per day. Mayo Clinic Laboratories has been on the front lines of increasing testing capacity to expedite caring for patients at this critical time and working to ease the burden being felt at test processing laboratories in a growing number of areas.
We are going above and beyond to find creative ways to transport fresh food and produce, as well as basic essentials from the U.S. mainland to military and their families in Guam/Micronesia. On Saturday, March 28, we operated an exclusive cargo-only B777-300 charter to transport nearly 100,000 pounds of food essentials to Guam to support our troops.
In addition, we move mail year-round all over the world. In response to COVID-19, and in support of the military members and their families overseas, we implemented a charter network, transporting military mail to Frankfurt, which is then transported all over Europe and the Middle East. Since March 20, we have flown 30,000+ pounds of military mail every day between Chicago O'Hare (ORD) and Frankfurt (FRA). On the return flight from Frankfurt to Chicago, we have carried an average of 35,000 pounds of mail to help families stay connected.
"Connecting products and mail to people around the world is the United Cargo mission," said United Cargo President Jan Krems. "Keeping our military families connected with the goods they need, and keeping them connected with loved ones to feel a sense of home, is of critical importance. As a company that has long supported our military families and veterans, our teams are proud to mobilize to lend a hand."
On average, we ship more than 1 billion pounds of cargo every year on behalf of domestic and international customers. For more information, visit unitedcargo.com.
To our customers,
I hope this note finds you and your loved ones healthy and well.
It is safe to say these past weeks have been among some of the most tumultuous and emotional that any of us can remember in our lifetimes. The impact of the coronavirus outbreak has been felt by individuals and families, companies and communities, across the United States and around the world.
The response to this crisis has been extraordinary; as much for what it has required from our society as for what it has revealed of us as a people.
Far from causing division and discord, this crisis and the social distancing it has required, has allowed us to witness something profound and moving about ourselves: our fond and deeply felt wish to be connected with one another.
The role of connector is one we're privileged to play in the moments that matter most in your life – weddings and graduations, birthdays and business trips, events large and small – and it's that responsibility that motivates us most to get back to our regular service, as soon as possible.
That is why it is so important our government acted on a comprehensive relief act to ensure our airline – and our industry – are ready and able to serve you again when this crisis abates.
I want to relay to you, in as deeply personal a way I can, the heartfelt appreciation of my 100,000 United team members and their families for this vital public assistance to keep America and United flying for you.
This support will save jobs in our business and many others. And it allows us time to make decisions about the future of our airline to ensure that we can offer you the service you deserve and have come to expect as our customers.
While consumer demand has fallen, we have seen the need for our service and capabilities shifted. And, we've adapted to help meet those needs.
Right now, aircraft flying the United livery and insignia, flown by our aviation professionals, have been repurposed to deliver vital medical supplies and goods to some of the places that need it most. We're also using several of our idle widebody aircraft to use as dedicated charter cargo flights, at least 40 times per week, to transfer freight to and from U.S. locations as well as to key international business locations. At the same time, we are working in concert with the U.S. State Department to bring stranded Americans who are trying to return home back to their loved ones.
While much remains uncertain right now, one thing is for sure: this crisis will pass. Our nation and communities will recover and United will return to service you, our customers. When that happens, we want you to fly United with even greater pride because of the actions we took on behalf of our customers, our employees and everyone we serve.
Stay safe and be well,
Together, we are facing an unprecedented challenge. United Together, we rise to meet that challenge.