United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz told reporters in a conference call Tuesday that there was “never a consideration” to fire anyone in relation to the forced removal of Dr. David Dao from one of their flights by law enforcement last week.
Munoz called the incident a “system failure,” according to CNN, and said he had received the support of the airline’s board of directors when he met with them following Dao’s removal.
The CEO and his airline came under fire last week after footage surfaced of Dao being violently removed from a United flight because he refused to give up his seat for $800. The public relations nightmare worsened after Munoz described Dao, who suffered a concussion and lost two teeth in the incident, as “disruptive and belligerent” in an email to United employees last week.
“This is a true learning opportunity and will ultimately prove to be a watershed moment for our company as we work harder than ever to put our customers at the center of everything we do,” Munoz said Tuesday.
Munoz also said he spoke with officials at the Chinese consulate in Chicago after backlash against the airline spiked when state-run media initially reported that Dao was of Chinese descent. Later reports confirmed that Dao was originally from Vietnam and had emigrated to the United States. United executives also said they have not determined yet whether Dao’s removal has had a negative effect on bookings, as the incident happened during Easter week, when bookings typically take a drop.
United has announced that it will no longer ask law enforcement officials to remove passengers from flights unless there are safety concerns, with United employees now required to book flights at least an hour in advance to avoid overbooked flights and pushing passengers out of their seats.
United’s first quarter earnings exceeded analyst projections, clocking in at 41 cents per share compared to projections of 38 cents per share. United also reported a year-to-year revenue increase of 2.7 percent.