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CNBC Exclusive: CNBC Transcript: United Airlines President & CEO Oscar Munoz Speaks with CNBC’s Jim Cramer on “Squawk on the Street” Today

WHEN: Today, Thursday, April 21st

WHERE: CNBC's "Squawk on the Street"

Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC EXCLUSIVE interview with United Airlines President and CEO Oscar Munoz on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" (M-F, 9AM-11AM ET) today, Thursday, April 21st. Following is a link to the interview on CNBC.com: http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000511499.

All references must be sourced to CNBC.

JIM CRAMER: I WANT TO BRING IN A VERY SPECIAL GUEST, OSCAR MUNOZ, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF UNITED AIRLINES. OSCAR I DON'T KNOW WHETHER TO SAY WELCOME BACK OR GOOD TO HAVE YOU I FIRST WANT TO JUST SAY THAT YOU'RE JUST AN UNBELIEVABLE THING TO COME BACK AFTER A HEART TRANSPLANT. I WANT TO ADDRESS THAT RIGHT UP BECAUSE YOU WERE CHALLENGED IMMEDIATELY BY DISSIDENTS THE MOMENT YOU GOT BACK. WHAT IS IT LIKE TO HAVE ALL THIS ON YOUR PLATE AT ONCE?

OSCAR MUNOZ: HEY, LISTEN, IT'S KIND OF WHAT WE DO. I FEEL TERRIFIC. I'M SO BLESSED TO BE BACK WITH MY UNITED FAMILY AND AGAIN DEALING WITH OUR INVESTORS, IT'S OUR JOB TO LISTEN TO THEM AND WORK WITH THEM AND I THINK WE'VE COME TO A RESOLUTION WITH THAT WHOLE GROUP.

CRAMER: NOW WHAT CAN THEY DO TO HELP YOU IT'S CLEAR LOOKING AT THE NUMBERS AND I WAS GOING OVER THE NUMBERS OF THE AIRLINES THAT HAVE REPORTED SO FAR. YOUR NUMBERS ARE NOT AS GOOD AS THE OTHERS GIYS. WHAT CAN A BOARD DO WHAT CAN YOU DO TO IMPROVE THE NUMBERS?

MUNOZ: THE GOOD THING ABOUT HAVING THIS PROXY ISSUE BEHIND US, IS THE FACT THAT WE CAN NOW GET TO ACTUALLY WORK ON THOSE ISSUES. YOU'RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT, THERE'S BEEN SOME LAGGING RESULTS FROM OUR COMPANY. BUT I TELL YOU I'M VERYH EXCITED ABOUT THE NUMBERS WE REPORTED TODAY BEYOND THE FINANCIAL ASPECTS OF THAT WE HAD SOME GREAT CUSTOMER SATISFACTION, THE BEST IN OUR RECORDED HISTORY AS A COMBINED COMPANY, WE'VE DONE SOME GREAT WORK WITH ON-TIME ARRIVALS SO OPERATIONALLY AND CUSTOMER FACING ISSUES CONTINUE TO DO WELL. YOUR POINT ON THE BOARD, I THINK THEY CAN DO A LOT FRANKLY. WE'VE REALLY RECONSTITUTED THE BOARD WITH SOME GREAT EXPERIENCE ACROSS TECHNOLOGY, INNOVATION, CERTAINLY THE AIRLINE EXPERIENCE THAT'S IMPORTANT, I HAVE SOME GREAT FINANCIAL PRESENCE FROM INVESTORS. I THINK THAT COMBINATION WILL BE REALLY WONDERFUL AS WE DEVELOP OUR GAME PLAN AND STRATEGY GOING FORWARD. WE WILL HAVE A GOOD GROUP OF FOLKS TO BALANCE IT AGAINST

CRAMER: WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE NUMBERS VERSUS THE OTHER COMPANIES, IT TRUE YOU'VE GOT SOME HOUSTON EXPOSURE THAT SEEMS A LITTLE WEAK BECAUSE OF OIL. I WANT YOU TO TALK ABOUT THAT AND TALK ABOUT THE DOLLAR AND WHAT THESE MEAN. I UNDERSTAND, 90thANNIVERSARY, YOU'VE GOT A GREAT WORKFORCE. JUST TRYING TO GET AT WHAT CAN HAPPEN OVER THE NEXT FEW QUARTERS TO MAKE IT SO YOUR STOCK IS BETTER THAN THE OTHER GUY'S?

MUNOZ: IT'S AGAIN ABOUT RUNNING A GREAT AIRLINE FOR OUR CUSTOMERS. WE HAVE SOME INHERENT COST AND INFRASTRUCTURE ISSUES THAT ARE DIFFICULT TO DEAL WITH NO QUESTIONS. FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, WE HAVE TO WORK ON THE REVENUE SIDE PRIMARILY. WE'VE LOST SOME CUSTOMERS. WE NEED TO REBUILD THE TRUST WITH THOSE CUSTOMERS AND GET THEM BACK. THAT INVOLVES A WHOLE LOT OF ISSUES WHERE WE FLY, HOW WE FLY, THE SERVICE, THE PRODUCT LEVEL WE PROVIDE BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, I THINK IT REQUIRES THE ABSOLUTE DIRECTION AND FOCUS OF 85,000 PEOPLE AND MY PRIORITIES FROM DAY ONE HAVE BEEN TO RESOLVE OUR LABOR ISSUES AND TO BASICALLY SHOW THE LOVE AND RESPECT FOR THE PROFESSIONALS THAT ACTUALLY RUN THIS AIRLINE.

CRAMER: LET'S ADDRESS ANOTHER ISSUE THAT'S A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT THAT YOU'RE AGAIN TRYING TO NAIL DOWN WHAT'S DIFFERENT UNITED VERSUS THE OTHER GUYS. YOU HAVE MORE CHINA EXPOSURE THAN ANY OF YOUR PEERS. I KNOW THAT IT PROBABL LONG TERM POSITIVE BUT WHAT'S GOING ON IN CHINA RIGHT NOW? THAT WAS SOMETHING I REALLY LOVED ABOUT UNITED VERSUS THE OR GUYS.

MUNOZ: WE JUST STARTED SOME NEW FLIGHTS INTO CHINA. CHINA IS GOING TO HAVE ITS UP AND DOWNS IT IS A BOOMING ECONOMY WHEN IT SLOWS DOWN A LITTLE BIT WE CERTAINLY FEEL IT. WE HAVE A BIG INTERNATIONAL PLAY AND THAT'S AN AREA WE HAVE TO CONTINUE FOCUS ON. WHAT'S HAPPENING IN CHINA IS WHAT HAPPENS IN EVERY MARKET, ECONOMIES RISE AND ECONOMIES DROP BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY OVER THE LONG RUN AS YOU SAY IT'S A GREAT BIG INTERNATIONAL PLAY FOR IT AND WE HAVE TO AT UNITED WIN ON THE INTERNATIONAL SIDE.

CRAMER: OK OSCAR, LET'S STEP BACK NOW BECAUSE THERE ARE ISSUES ABOUT CORPORATE GOVERNANCE THAT I THINK TYPICALLY OUR VIEWERS ARE NOT INTERESTED, BUT IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE IT IS FRONT AND CENTER. YOU HAVE ACTIVISTS WHO WEREN'T ACTIVISTS WHO BASICALLY SAY LISTEN, YOU'RE NOT DOING A GOOD JOB. YOU HADN'T EVEN GOTTEN IN THE JOB, THEY PUSH YOU BACK TO BECOMING CHAIRMAN IN 2018, NOT 2017. THEY SEEM TO ME TO BE A DISTRACTION. HOW DO YOU WORK WITH THESE PEOPLE GIVEN THE FACT THAT ALL YOU'RE REALLY TRYING TO DO IS RUN AN AIRLINE?

MUNOZ: WELL, I THINK WE HAVE AN AGREEMENT BETWEEN ALL THE PARTIES THAT RUNNING A GREAT AIRLINE IS THE ABSOLUTE FOCUS AND OBJECTIVE. AND WITH REGARDS TO THE CHAIRMAN ROLE AND ALL OF THOSE THINGS, YOU KNOW, TITLES AREN'T IMPORTANT TO ME. I DON'T REALLY CARE. WE DID THAT UNILATERALLY BY THE WAY, THAT WAS A DECISION I MADE FOR ALL OF THE RIGHT REASONS. BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY, I THINK THE TWO NEW MEMBERS THAT WE'VEADDED ARE TERRIFIC FROM A TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATIVE PERSPECTIVE AS WELL AS PROFOUND, DEEP AIRLINE EXPERIENCE FROM A FINANCIAL PERSPECTIVE. I'VE MET WITH THOSE FOLKS AT LENGTH, THEY ARE GREAT. PLUS THE THREE THAT WE HAVE ALREADY DONE, YOU KNOW JIM WHITEHURST FOR INSTANCE, ROBERT MILTON IS TERRIFIC, JIM KENNEDY IS AN ABSOLUTE TERRIFIC LONG-TIME PRESENCE WITH INSTITUTIONAL INVESTORS. SO THE RECONSTITUTED BOARD WILL DO GREAT. I WILL MISS SOME OF OUR BOARD MEMBERS THAT ARE LEAVING CERTAINLY BECAUSE WE HAD A GREAT RUN, BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY, I THINK WORKING TOGETHER ACROSS THAT WHOLE SPECTRUM – EMPLOYEES AND THE BOARD AND OUR MANAGEMENT TEAM – I THIN IT IS GOING TO WORK OUT VERY WELL. I'M JUST EXCITED TO GET BACK TO THE ACTUAL WORK AT HAND.

CRAMER: I DON'T BLAME YOU FOR BEING EXCITED BECAUSE I KNOW THIS IS THE GREATEST OPPORTUNITY. I REMEMBER YOU FROM THE CSX DAYS. WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RUNNING A RAILROAD AND RUNNING AN AIRLINE?

MUNOZ: WELL, THE PASSENGERS ON OUR FREIGHT ON THE AIRLINE IS JUST A LITTLE BIT MORE VOCAL THAN THE FREIGHT THAT I HAD AT THE RAIL SPACE CERTAINLY. BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY, FROM AN OPERATIONAL PERSPECTIVE, I'LL TELL YOU, THE PRIDE, THE LOYALTY AND THE PROFESSIONALISM THAT I HAD BOTH ON THE RAILROAD SIDE AS WELL AS THE AIRLINE SIDE, I THINK ARE VERY SIMILAR. I THINK FROM MY PERSPECTIVE IT GIVES ME A GREAT IN-DEPTH KNOWLEDGE OF THE LABOR SITUATION, WORKS THE SAME ON BOTH SIDES. SO THERE'S A LOT OF SIMILARITIES THAT PEOPLE DON'T UNDERSTAND. THERE ARE A LOT OF COMPLEXITY ON BOTH. BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY, THE DIFFERENTIAL, I BELIEVE, ON THE AIRLINE SPACE HAS GOT TO BE ABOUT THE PRODUCT AND THE SERVICE THAT YOU PROVIDE. AND AGAIN, I CAN'T EXPRESS THAT ENOUGH. THAT COMES FROM PEOPLE. IT IS A PEOPLE BUSINESS AND MY PRIMARY FOCUS IS TO GET OUR 84,000 PLUS PEOPLE BACK ALIGNED, BACK ENGAGED AND BACK FOCUSED ON OUR CUSTOMER.

CRAMER: I'M GLAD YOU BROUGHT THAT UP, OSCAR, BECAUSE I THINK ONE OF THE TENSIONS RIGHT NOW IN THE AIRLINE BUSINESS IT'S THE HALCYON MOMENT FOR AIRLINES. THEY ARE RETURNING A LOT OF CAPITAL. WHAT DO YOU WITH SAY, NEW BOARD MEMBERS, WHO MIGHT SAY LISTEN, WE'VE GOT TO KEEP GIVING THAT TO SHAREHOLDERS VERSUS FABULOUS WORKERS WHO ARE SAYING LISTEN, SOME OF THE OTHER GUYS ARE STARTING TO DO BIG PROFIT SHARING. WE WANT SOME OF THAT MONEY. YOU BOUGHT BACK TOO MUCH STOCK. WE WANT IT. HOW DO YOU RESOLVE THE TENSION AMONG NEW BOARD MEMBERS, AMONG LABOR AND AMONG SHAREHOLDERS?

MUNOZ: WELL LISTEN, AT THE END OF THE DAY, IT ALL ABOUT BALANCE, RIGHT? I SPENT A LOT OF TIME WITH OUR LABOR TRYING TO EXPLAIN THE CONCEPT OF SHARE REPURCHASES, WHICH IS DIFFICULT ENOUGH TO EXPLAIN TO SOMEONE THAT HAS LEARNED IT ON THAT AREA, BUT I THINK EVERYBODY UNDERSTANDS THAT THERE'S A DELICATE BALANCE BETWEEN ALL OF THOSE THINGS. AND I THINK OUR NEW BOARD MEMBERS UNDERSTAND THAT MORE PROFOUNDLY THAN ANYONE. AND SO PART OF THE DIFFICULT WORK AHEAD IS TO BUILD A GREAT AIRLINE, RUN A GREAT AIRLINE AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, MAKE SURE WE SORT OF RETURN TO EVERYONE INVOLVED. CERTAINLY LABOR, PARTICULARLY SHARE OWNERS, AND OF COURSE, AT THE END OF THE DAY, IT'S GOT TO BE ABOUT THE CUSTOMERS. WE CONSTANTLY FORGET ABOUT THAT IN THIS INDUSTRY. AND WITHOUT THEM, WE'RE NOTHING.

CRAMER: ALRIGHT, ONE LAST QUESTION, OSCAR. WE SPOKE TO HERB KELLER RECENTLY AND HE SAID LISTEN, I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY THESE STOCKS ARE SO UNDER VALUED. THEY ARE INCREDIBLY LOW GIVEN THE FACT THAT THIS ISN'T DIFFERENT THIS TIME. IS THE AIRLINE BUSINESS DIFFERENT THIS TIME? ARE WE GOING TO WAKE UP AND FIND BIG PRICE WARS? ARE WE GOING TO WAKE UP AND FIND HUGE CAPACITY EXPANSIONS? OR IS THIS A NEW ERA AND THESE COMPANIES ARE ALL VALUED WRONG?

MUNOZ: WELL, I'LL TELL YOU, I SURE HOPE IT'S A NEW ERA BECAUSE WE'VE ALL SEEN THE OLD ONE AND IT HASN'T WORKED. AND SO WE GOT TO DEVELOP AT UNITED OUR PLAYBOOK THAT IS OURS – NOT A COPY OF SOMEONE ELSE'S – AND THAT'S AN IMPORTANT THING TO ME. BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY, THE AREA WE'RE LIVING IN I THINK IS A – IT IS ONE THAT WE ARE ENJOYING, AND I THINK ONE THAT WE SHOULD FOCUSING ON KEEPING.

CRAMER: ALRIGHT. OSCAR, PROFOUNDLY GRATEFUL FOR MANY PEOPLE WHO KNOW THAT WHAT YOU WENT THROUGH, A HEART TRANSPLANT, THE MOST DIFFICULT THING. I WISH YOU WELL PERSONALLY AND YOUR FAMILY WELL. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR COMING ON "SQUAWK ON THE STREET." GREAT TO SEE YOU SIR.

MUNOZ: APPRECIATE IT. THANKS, JIM.

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