Neil Swindells, new leader of the United Airlines pilot union, steps down after disparaging comments come to light

Hours after CBS News reported the new chairman of the United Airlines chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association had apologized for derogatory comments he made, but said he would not be stepping down, Captain Neil Swindells resigned from the post that also gave him a seat on the airline’s board of directors.”There has been a significant negative response to things I posted on a pilot forum,” Swindells wrote in an email to United’s more than 14,000 pilots late Wednesday night. “While many of these things have been taken completely out of context and publicly weaponized against me, I cannot ignore their existence and the damaging effect it has had on many of my fellow pilots. For that, I am truly sorry and apologize unreservedly.” Swindells had posted comments in that “private pilot forum” that were insulting towards gay people, women, Jewish people and several other ethnic groups. Neil Windells. @UnitedPilots / Twitter The longtime United pilot was elected to his position as the Master Chair of the United Master Executive Council of ALPA, which represents more than 14,000 United Airlines pilots, on Monday, Dec. 19. His predecessor, Mike Hamilton, held the position for less than a year before stepping down due to a family issue. Swindells was elected by a pilots’ union executive council that consists of 19 pilots. The comments were surfaced by other pilots before the election, which Windells narrowly won. CBS News was provided messages posted under Swindells’ name that were confirmed by other United Airlines pilots. CBS News reviewed about three dozen messages in all. For example, in September 2021, he appears to have responded to a post with: “Continuing to get your gay man on today I see.” On Sept. 16, after an event where United Airlines and Emirates Airlines announced an alliance, Swindells wrote “And, I’m sure EMIRATES had NOTHING TO DO with the EMIRATES MALE CAPTAIN being flanked by a UNITED FEMALE FIRST OFFICER, either, right???” and called the event a “DEI money shot!!!” A post written by Neil Swindells that was shared with CBS News. Sources tell CBS News Swindells’ comments raised concerns among many rank-and-file pilots despite his apology earlier this week. “It became clear my position was untenable and a negative distraction” to ongoing contract negotiations, he wrote. In the message to pilots, Swindells said that the controversy over his posts “does not represent who I am as a person. … I have had a spotless record of service to the Association and the Company for over 27 years, but errors in judgment on a pilot forum may have damaged that reputation. I hope it has not.” Trending News Kris Van Cleave Kris Van Cleave is a congressional correspondent for CBS News based in Washington, DC

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *