United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz received a “communicator of the year” award — just weeks before a United passenger was violently dragged off of a flight on Sunday.
Munoz received the honour from PRWeek, a top communications publication, in March for his work over the past year to “better engage with employees and customers,” a March 17 press release from the airline read.
According to PRWeek, each year the publication chooses a person outside of the communications industry who demonstrated “outstanding communication skills” under pressure. Munoz, who nearly died from a heart attack a month into his job, found himself running an airline in crisis, Business Insider’s Benjamin Zhang reported in February:
- A merger with Continental Airlines led to some heated labour talks.
- United fell behind its biggest competitors.
- And an ageing aircraft fleet led to increased delays.
Munoz published an open letter to United’s 82,000 employees on Monday night, applauding them for going “above and beyond” amid the uproar over the passenger who was taken off Flight 3411 on Sunday. “While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right,” Munoz’s letter read.
The CEO stopped short of apologizing to the 69 year-old passenger who was forcibly removed from the aircraft.