United Airlines names general counsel acting CEO

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CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 19: A United Airlines jet taxis at O'Hare International Airport on September 19, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. In 2013, 67 million passengers passed through O'Hare, another 20 million passed through Chicago's Midway Airport, and the two airports combined moved more than 1.4 million tons of air cargo. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 19: A United Airlines jet taxis at O'Hare International Airport on September 19, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. In 2013, 67 million passengers passed through O'Hare, another 20 million passed through Chicago's Midway Airport, and the two airports combined moved more than 1.4 million tons of air cargo. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

BY DAVID KOENIG AP

United Airlines named an acting CEO on Monday night to replace its chief executive who suffered a heart attack about a month into the job.

The company said that general counsel Brett J. Hart had taken over for Oscar Munoz, who went on medical leave.

United confirmed that Munoz suffered a heart attack Thursday. The company said it was too soon to know how long he would need to recover.

Munoz, 56, became CEO in early September after Jeff Smisek abruptly stepped down amid a federal investigation.

The announcement of an acting CEO came after four days of speculation about leadership at the world’s second-largest airline. Until Monday night, the company had refused meaningful comment on the situation, issuing two brief statements that said Munoz was in the hospital but giving no details about his condition or who was running the airline. United cited privacy concerns for Munoz and his family.

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