Published: Wed, May 03, 2017
Finance | By Laverne Griffith

United chief met Chinese officials over dragged passenger


After the incident triggered worldwide outrage, United Chief Executive Oscar Munoz apologized to Dao, his family and its customers, saying the carrier would no longer use law enforcement officers to remove passengers from overbooked flights.

There was "never consideration" of firing an employee over the incident, he said.

The Chicago-based United Airlines airline is reviewing policies with regard to handling oversold flights to prevent similar incidents, and talking to some passengers and employees on how the airline can take a more "common-sense approach".

The company is now conducting a review of its policies on overbooked flights - with details expected later this month.

The fiasco has hurt shares of United Continental, which dropped about 4 percent on Tuesday, despite the company reporting better-than-expected earnings late Monday.

United has repeatedly apologised for the incident and announced two rule changes last week, including saying that it will no longer call police to remove passengers from overbooked planes.

United Airlines' reputation is circling the drain after the forcible removal of a passenger from one of its flights went viral and made worldwide headlines last week.

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Chicago aviation officers dragged the 69-year-old doctor - one of four passengers randomly selected for removal to accommodate United employees - after he refused to budge or accept a travel voucher incentive. Asked whether United's board considered disciplinary action against executives or employees, Munoz said the Dao incident occurred due to a "system failure across various areas".

Munoz said he has sent a "personal note to our most loyal customers" about the incident, adding, "The response rate has been pretty high and positive".

Dao's lawyer said the senior citizen incurred a significant concussion, suffered a broken nose and lost two front teeth in the incident, and that he would likely sue the airline, which also drew scorn after banning two young women wearing yoga trousers from a flight. In fact, US Airways had revenue of $11.56 billion in 2016, and without overbooking, they would have lost over $1 billion.

Social media users in the US, Vietnam and China to call for a boycott of the carrier.

"That's normally a very low booking period", United President Scott Kirby said on the call.

United's earnings per share was 41 cents, beating expectations by 3 cents.

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