United Airlines CEO vows to keep passengers safe after multiple mishaps


United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby is vowing to keep passengers safe after a series of mishaps at the carrier, including the latest incident in which a flight from San Francisco to an airport in Medford, Oregon, was found discovered to have a missing panel on its fuselage.

Kirby made the pledge in a letter sent to customers on Monday morning, saying the airline is reviewing each incident to understand what happened. 

“Unfortunately, in the past few weeks, our airline has experienced a number of incidents that are reminders of the importance of safety,” Kirby wrote. “While they are all unrelated, I want you to know that these incidents have our attention and have sharpened our focus.”

Other recent problems include a United flight that lost a rear tire during takeoff in San Francisco and a flight departing from Memphis, Tennessee that skidded off the runway into a grassy area. Experts have told CBS MoneyWatch that the string of incidents are unusual but most likely coincidental, yet that they could undermine travelers’ confidence in the airline. 

The incidents occurred after an Alaska Airlines in January suffered a mid-flight blowout of a door panel, which has heightened concerns about aircraft safety among flyers. 

In his letter, Kirby said United had already planned some changes before the carrier’s run of issues, including adding a day of in-person training for all pilots beginning in May. The airline is also adding a centralized training curriculum for newly hired maintenance technicians, he added. 

“Our team is reviewing the details of each case to understand what happened and using those insights to inform our safety training and procedures across all employee groups,” Kirby said. 

Kirby added that United employees are encouraged to “speak up and raise their hand if they see something wrong.”

“You can be confident that every time a United plane pulls away from the gate, everyone on our team is working together to keep you safe on your trip,” he wrote.



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