United CEO won’t add chairman title in 2018

DALLAS — United Airlines said CEO Oscar Munoz, who came under withering criticism for the airline’s handling of a passenger-dragging incident, will not automatically add the title of chairman in 2018 as planned.

The company said Friday that Munoz proposed rewriting his employment contract to remove the expectation that he would become chairman at next year’s annual meeting of parent United Continental Holdings Inc. United also said Friday that Munoz received $18.7 million in compensation last year.

Munoz was widely faulted for his early responses to the April 9 incident on board a United Express plane. He first blamed the 69-year-old passenger who was dragged off by airport security officers. Munoz later apologized repeatedly for United’s handling of the situation.

The incident is under investigation by Congress and the Transportation Department. Lawyers for the passenger, Kentucky physician David Dao, have hinted at a lawsuit. And there have been calls online to boycott United.

United executives said this week it was too early to know if the widely publicized incident has affected ticket sales.

The airline’s board of directors has supported Munoz, according to a statement last week from Chairman Robert Milton. United said Friday in a securities filing that management and the board “take recent events extremely seriously,” and will link executive bonuses partly to “progress toward improvements in the customer experience.”