United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz will step down from running the airline in May and will be succeeded by Scott Kirby. Kirby was brought to United Airlines three years ago from rival American Airlines.

Munoz will become chairman of the airline, the company announced on Thursday. Munoz is best known for being the face of the airline when a passenger was dragged off an overbooked flight in April of 2017. In the face of outrage he testified before Congress that "we had a horrible failure."

Ambitious goals

"When I joined United as CEO, I laid out ambitious goals to build a new spirit of United by regaining the trust of our employees and customers — and I'm proud of how far we've come," Munoz said. "With United in a stronger position than ever, now is the right time to begin the process of passing the baton to a new leader."

United ceo replacement
United Airlines

Following the news of Kirby taking over the CEO role from Munoz the shares of the airline were slightly higher in premarket trading. The stock has risen 54% during Munoz's more-than four years on the job. In a video included with the news release, Kirby said he wants to continue growing over the next few years.

"I am honored to be named the next CEO of United and to succeed Oscar, whose leadership has been truly transformational for United Airlines," Kirby said. "I look forward to working with Oscar, the Board, our established leadership team and every United employee as we drive forward our proven strategy and focus on being the airline customers choose to fly and return to time and again."

The company also announced that Ted Philip will become Lead Independent Director following the 2020 Annual Meeting of Shareholders.

"I could not be more excited about the opportunity that we have at United over the next several years to fulfill this airline's incredible potential," Philip said. "I am proud to work alongside Oscar in guiding United's Board and leadership team, and I am eager to get to work on delivering for all of our stakeholders. The entire Board and I want to thank Jane for her many contributions to United over the last decade, including her highly successful tenure as Chairman."