Jade Eckardt 16 Jun 2017 // 6:43AM GMT
CHICAGO — United Airlines has named its top legal executive Brett Hart to oversee global communications in the newly created role of chief administrative officer, executive vice president and general counsel.
Jim Olson, who continues as United's SVP of corporate communications, will now report to Hart, after previously reporting to human resources and labor relations EVP Mike Bonds. EVP. Bonds, who announced his retirement in early 2017, will maintain his position until the airline finds a suitable replacement for him.
The changes in United's communications leadership follow the public relations crisis that attracted severe criticism after passenger David Dao was physically assaulted and dragged off United Express Flight 3411. Dao was removed by airline employees to make room for four other United employees. Not long before the incident, United had another PR nightmare when two young women were restricted from boarding a flight for wearing leggings.
Hart adds the communications role to his existing duties leading United's legal, corporate real estate and security, community, government and regulatory affairs team he had under his former title as EVP and general counsel. Hart served as interim CEO for United Airlines in late 2015 when CEO Oscar Munoz, who he will report to, was out on medical leave.
"It's a strategic and natural fit to have Brett take on global communications," said Erin Benson, a spokeswoman for United. She added that his previous experience in government, community, and public affairs would support his position.
Prior to joining United in 2010, Hart served as EVP, general counsel and corporate secretary at Sara Lee Corporation. There, he directed global legal operations for the company. He joined Sara Lee in 2004 as assistant general counsel and worked his way through positions such as deputy general counsel and global compliance officer. Before that, he was a partner at law firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal in Chicago. Prior to that, he served as special assistant to the general counsel at the US Department of Treasury.
United has also expanded the roles of two other members of its executive leadership team. Linda Jojo has been named EVP of technology and chief digital officer. In addition to her current responsibility for United's technology platforms and analytics, Jojo will lead the strategy, development and deployment of its e-commerce, mobile app and commercial web platforms. She was previously EVP and chief information officer and will report to Munoz.
In addition, Andrew Nocella has been named EVP and chief commercial officer. He will continue to oversee the network, commercial, pricing and revenue management strategy and will have responsibility for marketing and MileagePlus. He was previously EVP and chief revenue officer and will report to Scott Kirby, president of United Airlines.