United Airlines pilots union chief resigns after comments surfaced

A United Airlines passenger plane prepares to exit its gate and taxi to the runway at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California.

Robert Alexander | Getty Images

The newly elected chairman of the United Airlines The pilots’ union has resigned after a series of his recent online posts sparked an outcry from some fellow aviators and union leaders.

Neil Swindells, a Chicago-based Boeing 787 captain, was narrowly elected earlier this week to lead the union of more than 14,000 pilots. Some of the messages had surfaced ahead of the union leadership vote, which he narrowly won. The election took place after the previous chairman resigned for family reasons.

Swindells, who could not be immediately reached for comment, announced his retirement in a note to pilots late Wednesday.

United Airlines did not immediately comment. Swindells would have had a seat on United’s board of directors as chairman of the pilots’ union. The airline and union are in the midst of contract negotiations and previous efforts to reach an agreement have failed.

Wed Sept November, two days after United announced a partnership with former rival Emirates at an event at Washington Dulles International Airport, Swindells wrote on a private message board for pilots: “And I am sure EMIRATES has NOTHING to do with EMIRATES MALE CAPTAIN was flanked by a United ‘FEMALE FIRST OFFICER’.

He wrote that the event showcased Emirates’ “CODESHARE DOMINANCE” as they give UNITED their desired DEI money shot!!!

DEI is a commonly used acronym for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Code-sharing in the airline industry means that airlines work together to market each other’s flights.

Swindells, who has been at United for nearly three decades, on Tuesday apologized “to everyone I’ve offended” for language that was “often colourful, heated and inappropriate” but declined to step down at the time.

In his statement of resignation to pilots on Wednesday night, he said: “While many of these things have been taken completely out of context and publicly armed against me, I cannot ignore their existence and the detrimental effects they have had on many of my fellow pilots. “

Screenshots of some of Swindell’s posts were shared with CNBC.

Hours before his resignation, the leader of the Air Line Pilots Association, International, the parent union of United and other airlines, issued a statement saying he will always “stand and fight” for an inclusive aviation community.

“In our democratic structure, United pilots elect their leaders and it’s up to them to decide who they want at the helm,” Capt said. wrote Joe DePete.

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