By Shen Lu
United Continental Holdings Inc.’s chief commercial officer, Julia Haywood, has stepped down after less than six months on the job, the airline confirmed Friday.
Haywood’s responsibilities included sales, network planning, pricing and revenue management.
Haywood, a former Boston Consulting Group partner, was hired on August 18, along with Andrew Levy, chief financial officer, as a “key leader” of United’s new team under CEO Oscar Munoz.
Less than two weeks later, Munoz hired Scott Kirby — former president of American Airlines Inc. — as United’s president.
“With United’s strategy now firmly in place, Julia has decided to return to BCG,” United spokesperson Charles Hobart said.
“I, along with Oscar and the entire senior leadership team, appreciate the contributions Julia has made during this transformative period for our airline, and we wish her the very best,” Kirby said in a statement. “We will continue to focus on building out the commercial team to achieve our goal of becoming the world’s best airline.”
The departure does not appear to be part of United’s plan, announced this week, to trim management employees as an ongoing effort to improve profitability, said Chris Higgins, analyst at Morningstar Inc.
The No.3 U.S. airline by passenger traffic has long faced pressure from other legacy airlines with lower cost structures. Trade publication Air Weekly ranked the carrier the least profitable U.S.-based carrier in a study published on Jan.9.
United has said its focus in 2017 is to improve its margins and that the airline is on track to boost profit by $4.8 billion by 2020.
“I have great confidence we will achieve our cost efficiency targets outlined at our investor day as we look to offset rising fuel and labor costs,” Levy said in the company’s earnings press release.
United on Tuesday reported a better-than-expected 1.6 percent decline in its fourth-quarter passenger unit revenue, a key metric to determine the efficiency of an airline, as its net income slipped 52 percent.