United Airlines CEO Sheds Light on the Reality of Recovery Post–Pandemic. Scott Kirby, the CEO of United Airlines, offered a bleak outlook during the company’s earnings call regarding the airline industry’s recovery from the impact of the Covid–19 pandemic. According to Kirby, the industry’s capacity aspirations for 2023 and beyond are unattainable, which means the system cannot accommodate the current volume, let alone the expected growth. This is a new reality and the new math for all airlines, Kirby stated. Kirby highlighted that the main factor hindering a full recovery for airlines is the shortage of pilots. This shortage is preventing airlines from reaching their full potential and bouncing back from the loss caused by the pandemic.