No one from United Airlines will be fired after a passenger was dragged from his seat and off a flight last week, touching off a national firestorm, CEO Oscar Munoz said Tuesday.
Munoz said an internal investigation set to wrap up by the end of the month could yield more policy changes for the airline, which faced a barrage of criticism after video showing the removal of the passenger David Dao went viral on social media.
Dao suffered a concussion, a broken nose and lost two teeth in the incident when Chicago aviation police dragged him off the flight, according to his lawyer Thomas Demetrio. Three officers have been placed on administrative leave while the incident is investigated.
Because the incident aboard United Express Flight 3411 was a systemic problem, the company won't fire anyone in management — including Munoz — or its rank-and-file workers.
“The buck stops here. I’m sure there was lots of conjecture about me personally," he said. "It was a system failure across various areas. No, there was never a consideration for firing an employee or anyone around it."
Dao was one of four passengers removed from the sold-out flight to make room for airline crew members. Munoz repeated his apology Tuesday to Dao, other passengers on the flight and the rest of the airline's customers.
“You can and should expect more from us, and as CEO I take full responsibility for making this right,” Munoz said.
The airline already offered refunds to passengers on the flight and said police will no longer be called to remove paid, seated passengers from flights, unless for safety or security issues, Munoz said. The airline will also require crews to be onboard flights at least 60 minutes before departure.
United’s internal investigation is scheduled to report its results by April 30. Munoz declined to say whether the airline would end overbooking sales until the comprehensive review is completed.
"We are looking at a broad array of issues," Munoz said. "I would rather wait until we've the done the full work and we'll report on it next week."
President Scott Kirby said the company answered questions and concerns from corporate accounts, which are "largely supportive."
"We felt pretty good about the communications that we've had so far and our ability to reassure them and explain things like overbooking," Kirby said.
Asked if there was a drop in bookings from China, where video of the incident provoked widespread outrage, Kirby said it's too early to say because there are too few days to measure possible changes. Munoz said he's met with the Chinese consulate to discuss the incident and has a previously planned trip to China within a few weeks.
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