Heart Transplant Sidelines United Air CEO
After a heart attack in October caused the CEO of leading US commercial airline United Air and its holding company United Continental Holdings to take a medical leave, doctors in Chicago performed a heart transplant on Oscar Munoz, 57, the first week of this month. (He had only taken office in September.) Before the operation, Munoz was still involved in some corporate activities and meetings, but these days he’s fully in recovery mode and is said to be making the expected progress. General counsel Brett Hart was named acting CEO last year in Munoz’s absence, which is expected to last into the spring.
Change in Spirit with New CEO
In other airline news, the president and CEO of superdiscount carrier Spirit Airlines, Ben Baldanza, who had held the post for about a decade, resigned on short notice this month. Baldanza led the airline to pride itself on its ultralow costs, but the company is also disparaged for the policy he instituted of charging passengers every conceivable fee on board for what was once commonly considered complimentary. Replacing him is Robert Fornaro, a director since 2014 and former head of discounter AirTran before that airline was sold in 2011 to Southwest Air.
Senate Panel Approves New Commissioner for FDA
The US Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee this week advanced President Obama’s nomination of Robert Califf as the next commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Califf, a physician, is presently a deputy commissioner at the agency, overseeing medical products and tobacco, and has held that slot for nearly a year. Another doctor, Stephen Ostroff, has served as acting commissioner since March; he was the agency’s chief scientist, a post he will likely return to. Califf awaits a vote of approval by the full Senate before he can step up to the FDA’s top job.
Look for more Executives on the Move next week!