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United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby Addresses Safety Concerns in Open Letter to Passengers After Spate of Embarrassing Mishaps

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby Addresses Safety Concerns in Open Letter to Passengers After Spate of Embarrassing Mishaps

a plane on the runway

The chief executive of United Airlines is sending out an open letter to frequent flyers to address safety concerns after a spate of embarrassing mishaps threatened to tarnish the carrier’s safety record.

In just the last couple of weeks, a United Boeing 777 has lost a wheel on takeoff; a Boeing 737 landed with an exterior panel missing, and earlier this month, a 737MAX suffered a collapsed wheel gear after it skidded off the end of the runway and into the grass at Houston Intercontinental Airport.

United has also made the news after a flight from Sydney to San Francisco had to turn back after suffering a ‘maintenance issue’ shortly after takeoff, while last Thursday, a United flight from Dallas Fort Worth to San Francisco suffered a hydraulic leak shortly before landing.

The slew of recent incidents has inevitably increased scrutiny on United, and even the most minor everyday technical issues are now being carefully examined by the media and the airline’s passengers.

“Of all the things that make me proud of our team at United Airlines, I’m most proud of the culture we’ve built around the safety of our employees and our customers,” Scott Kirby wrote in the open letter.

The letter continued, “Safety is our highest priority and is at the center of everything we do.”

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

In an attempt to get ahead of the narrative currently developing around United’s safety culture, Kirby reassured frequent flyers that the airline was reviewing each of the recent incidents and would be making changes to training and procedures.

Kirby says some changes had already been planned, including additional day in in-person pilot training, and a completely reworked and centralized curriculum for new-hire maintenance technicians.

“We empower our team to speak up and raise their hand if they see something wrong,” Kirby wrote. “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”.

A spokesperson for United said the carrier did not have anything further to share about the letter or the recent spate of incidents.

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