At two previous companies, new United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby developed a reputation for bluntness, often favoring honest answers over diplomatic ones. On Thursday, speaking at his first public forum since taking over last week from Oscar Munoz, Kirby showed he wouldn’t drop the act just because he now leads a Fortune 100 company.
In a 50-minute discussion at the Bernstein 36th Annual Strategic Decisions Conference, Kirby shared his opinions on several issues he’s confronting, including onboard safety, a lack of demand, and mounting debt.
United capitalized on U.S. bankruptcy law in 2002, reorganizing ahead of its merger with Continental Airlines, but Kirby told analysts he has no interest in filing again, except in the most dire circumstances.
“I’ll try to be calm, since I’m on video,” he said. “To me, it’s like the dumbest question possible. We are not going to file for bankruptcy. It would be the absolute last thing to do.”