In a conversation with Washington Post Live, United Airlines chief executive officer Scott Kirby shared his outlook for the rebound in airline travel, including an optimistic view on a strong return of business travel post-pandemic.


United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby says business and international travel has to return to about 65 percent for the airline to see profitability. “We’re not sure on the timing. There’s two big variables that we need. One, we need business travel to come back, and two, we need the international border to reopen….What we really need to do is get back to about 65 percent of normal levels for business demand and international, long-haul demand to get to break even.” (Washington Post Live)
United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby says he believes demand for business travel will return because “business travel is about human relationships and human interaction. “As tough as this pandemic has been, it has not changed human desire to be together.” (Washington Post Live)
United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby says the airline has not required that employees get vaccinated, but he encourages it, especially among employees who interact with people frequently. “My own view was that it is a safety issue, it is a health issue, we are all better off if we get vaccinated.” (Washington Post Live)
United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby says he believes most long-haul international destinations will require travelers to be vaccinated. (Washington Post Live)

Scott Kirby

Scott Kirby is chief executive officer of United Airlines. He served as the company’s president from 2016 to 2020 and was responsible for United’s operations, marketing, sales, alliances, network planning and revenue management. As president, he played a pivotal role in enabling United’s cultural transformation and executing the company’s strategic growth plan. Elected in December 2020, Scott serves as the Chairman of the Star Alliance Chief Executive Board (CEB).

Prior to joining United, Scott was president of American Airlines from 2013 to 2016 and president of US Airways from 2006 to 2013. He is a well-known industry veteran, with a broad and accomplished three-decade-long career in significant leadership roles within the airline industry. Scott started his career at the Pentagon and in the technology sector.

Scott has bachelor’s degrees in computer science and operations research from the U.S. Air Force Academy and a Master of Science in operations research from George Washington University. He is married and has seven children.