United remains silent on medical condition of airline CEO

Sun Oct 18, 2015 8:08pm EDT
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(Reuters) - United Continental Holdings Inc (UAL.N: Quote) remained silent on the medical condition of its new chief executive officer, who was admitted to the hospital Thursday, prompting questions from observers about who will lead the company in his absence.

The airline said Friday that Oscar Munoz had been admitted to a hospital without providing further details. A source familiar with situation told Reuters the 56-year-old had suffered a heart attack.

However, as of Sunday night, United had declined to provide any updates about Munoz' health or state who will handle his responsibilities.

"We need to know who is speaking on the behalf of the company and who is accountable for the decisions of this great airline," said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a corporate governance expert and a professor at the Yale School of Management.

While United might be waiting to provide comment out of respect for Munoz' privacy, the company also has an obligation to shareholders, Sonnenfeld said.

"Munoz is entitled to his privacy if he doesn't want to be CEO," he said.

Munoz' health problems come barely a month after Munoz took on the job of improving the profitability and reputation of United, the No. 2 U.S. carrier by capacity.

Munoz and his family could not be reached for comment. It is not known where Munoz is being treated.

United's shares closed down 3.1 percent after the news, at a one-week low of $55.97. They have dropped nearly 17 percent this year.   Continued...

United Continental Holdings Inc CEO Oscar Munoz is seen in an undated handout picture courtesy of United Airlines. REUTERS/Courtesy of United Airlines/Handout