“I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight, and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard,” United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said in a statement on Tuesday.
“I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right. No one should ever be mistreated this way,” he added.
The embattled airlines has come under harsh criticism since a video released on social media on Sunday showed a Chinese man being forcibly taken off a flight at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. The airline said the 69-year-old man, identified as Dr. David Dao, had been asked to give up his seat on an overbooked flight from Chicago to Louisville in the US state of Kentucky, but he refused to cooperate.
Passengers confirmed that the flight was overbooked and the airline wanted the man and three other passengers to disembark so that four of its own employees could get on board. They said the tussle led to the man’s face being slammed against an arm rest, causing serious bleeding.
Munoz promised that the company would conduct a “thorough review” of its procedures, including “how we handle oversold situations” and how the airline partners with airport authorities and law enforcement.
He also pledged to release the results of the review by the end of this month.
According to the Chicago aviation department, one of the law enforcement officers was put on leave after it became clear that he had not followed the protocol.
The incident caused furor among Chinese people, in particular, after news outlets described the mistreated passenger as being of Chinese descent.
Many Chinese social media users accused the airlines of racism and others called for a boycott against it. The Chinese hashtag translated into “United forcibly removes passenger from plane,” was the most popular topic on the country’s popular social network, garnering more than 270 million views and more than 150,000 comments.
United Airlines has lost nearly one billion dollars in value since the Sunday incident.