Date
25 June 2017
United Airlines will conduct a thorough review on procedures related to handling situations arising from overbooked flights, CEO Oscar Munoz said
United Airlines will conduct a thorough review on procedures related to handling situations arising from overbooked flights, CEO Oscar Munoz said

United CEO apologizes after passenger dragged off flight

United Airlines Chief Executive Oscar Munoz on Tuesday issued an apology over an incident at the weekend when a paying passenger was forcibly removed from a flight in the United States.

“I’m sorry. We will fix this,” Munoz said in a statement a day after he had defended the company in a memo, Reuters reports.

“I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard,” he said in the statement. “No one should ever be mistreated this way.”

The apology came after the carrier faced a worldwide backlash for dragging a passenger from his seat on an overbooked flight on Sunday.

Video showing a man who appeared to be Asian being snatched from his seat and dragged from United Airlines Flight 3411 sparked global outrage that escalated as consumers in China, a key United market, called for boycotts of the airline.

United Continental Holdings shares fell as much as 4.4 percent on Tuesday, but recovered some losses and ended 1.1 percent lower. 

In his apology, Munoz pledged a “a thorough review of crew movement, our policies for incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement.”

The findings will be released by April 30, he said.

Sunday’s incident came as Munoz, who took over United in 2015, was already facing pressure from activist investors to improve the airline’s performance, including its customer relations, Reuters noted.

The risks to United from the uproar over the forced removal of the passenger in Chicago intensified on Tuesday.

On Chinese social media, the incident attracted the attention of more than 480 million users on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform.

United has about 20 percent of total US-China airline traffic and has a partnership with Air China. 

According to Tyler Bridges, a passenger who was on board the flight from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky, the man who was dragged off before takeoff said repeatedly that he was being discriminated against because he was Chinese.

“He said, ‘I’m a doctor; I need to see patients,” Bridges, a civil engineer from Louisville who recorded much of the incident on his phone, told Reuters.

In the US, social media outrage continued, with the incident trending on Twitter for the second consecutive day.

Many users promoted hashtags #NewUnitedAirlinesMotto and #BoycottUnitedAirlines.

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RC

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