Why United Airlines Sprang Into Action When Wildfires Hit California

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United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz was wearing his heart on his sleeve last week when he distributed a memo to nearly 90,000 employees on the subject of the devastating wildfires that hit California hard this month.

As Munoz noted, those wildfires are now the most destructive in California history, with more than 75 people confirmed dead and hundreds still missing.

The grim statistics have struck the United Airlines family hard. Not only is the Golden State home to two of the carrier’s most important hubs, Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport, but also to nearly 20,000 United employees.

Added Munoz: “It gives us great pride to serve the communities of this state in good times and to stand with them in times of need, like now.”

United also said late last week it will make a tangible contribution in the form of a $150,000 direct cash contribution to support the Ventura County Community Foundation and the North Valley Community Foundation as they work to help those affected by the wildfires begin to rebuild and get back on their feet.

Munoz said United’s efforts, in conjunction with the California Governor’s Office Of Emergency Services, will extend to offering travel to first responders who need to get to California or get around the state.

Further, United said it would set up a campaign to raise money from United customers to assist the American Red Cross and other not-for-profits doing work in the regions hit by the fires.

Of course, the fires also have made air travel more difficult than usual at airports throughout California because of the smoke-filled skies.

Added Munoz: “I want to commend all our employees who are going above and beyond in order to keep us flying safely and reliably during this period.”

As ugly as the California fires have been, they provided United with another way to show that it is evolving into a more caring airline in the wake of the man-dragged-from-plane incident that served as a transformative moment in April of last year for the Chicago-based airline.

United Airlines is a unit of United Continental Holdings (NASDAQ: UAL).

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