It’s hard to look back at this year in the commercial aviation industry and not mention about United’s infamous incident surrounding Dr. David Dao. Heck, the incident even has its own Wikipedia page. United got a lot of heat for handling the situation terribly, from not having customer-friendly policies in place, to literally dragging the passenger off the plane, and to issuing multiple inaccurate and unapologetic statements.
United PR has had a rough year, and I’m sure the company is hoping to put it all behind them (remember the legging incident just one month prior?). But with such a turbulent year, it seems that there are finally some high-level personnel changes. According to Skift, Jim Olson, SVP of Corporate Communications for United, is resigning effective January 8, 2018. A United spokesperson told Skift that Olson wasn’t asked to leave, but will now be searching for his replacement.
Olson joined United just last year, immediately following his position as VP of Global Corporate Communications in China/Asia-Pacific for Starbucks. Prior to this, he worked as the VP of Corporate Communications for US Airways (between 2008 and 2011). He has also held various positions in Yahoo, Nissan, and Waggener Edstrom.
United began hiring new PR specialists almost immediately following the Dr. Dao incident, and United CEO Oscar Munoz was no longer named Chairman of the Board after the incident, with United saying it was “in response to recent events.” However, this will be the first time someone on a higher level has stepped down. Of course, Olson didn’t specify the reason for his resignation to the press (at least not yet), but with his turbulent tenure, it’s not difficult to see why.