United’s under-fire chief executive has promised police officers will never again board one of his airline’s planes to remove a passenger from an overbooked flight.
CEO Oscar Munoz, 57, spoke to Good Morning America on Wednesday in his first public appearance since Dr. David Dao was seen on video being dragged from a flight at Chicago O’Hare International Airport on Sunday night.
Footage of the incident has been shared around the world, leading to United being blasted for the forceful removal.
The interview started when the 57-year-old – who earned about $6.7million last year – was asked what his first reaction was to seeing the videos of a bloodied Dr Dao being pulled from the plane.
Scroll down for video
United’s under-fire CEO Oscar Munoz has spoke to Good Morning America in his first appearance since the airline’s Dr Dao scandal on Sunday night
‘It’s not so much what I thought it’s what I felt – probably the word shame comes to mind,’ he told ABC’s Rebecca Jarvis.
‘As I think about our business and our people the first thing I think is important it to apologize to Dr David Dao and his family, to the passengers on that flight, to our customers, and our employees.
‘That is not who United is… you saw us at a bad moment.
Munoz was then asked about his initial responses to the controversy, which led to him being labeled ‘tone deaf’.
His initial statement read: ‘This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers.’
He then drew further criticism by claiming Dr Dao was ‘disruptive and belligerent,’ and accusing him of trying to punch the police officers.
‘It’s not so much what I thought it’s what I felt – probably the word shame comes to mind,’ Munoz told ABC’s Rebecca Jarvis ‘We are not going to appoint a law enforcement official to remove a booked, paid, seated passenger, we cannot do that,’ Munoz said on Wednesday morning
‘The initial words fell short of truly expressing what we were feeling,’ Munoz told GMA on Wednesday.
‘And that’s something I’ve learned from. The expression of apology, and specifically to the folks I mentioned before, is an important part of a conversation like this because that shame and embarrassment was pretty palpable.’
He then continued on in the interview to promise a similar incident will ‘never happen again’ on a United plane, before flagging changing to the airline’s policy regarding removing passengers from overbooked flights.
‘Specifically, the use of law enforcement aboard aircraft has to be looked at,’ he said.
‘They are clearly there for safety… but for other reasons that is a policy that clearly has to be looked at.’
When asked if police would do the same thing they did to Dr Dao again in future, at the airline’s request, Munoz said: ‘We are not going to appoint a law enforcement official to remove a booked, paid, seated passenger, we cannot do that.’
He also touched on potentially tweaking the airline’s policy in regards to offering rewards to passengers so they surrender their seats on overbooked flights.
‘I think, back to the broader system, there are many points we need to look at,’ Munoz told GMA.
Man forcibly removed from plane because flight was overbooked No compatible source was found for this video. Dr David Dao is pictured bleeding from the mouth after he was body slammed by cops and dragged off the overbooked United flight at Chicago O’Hare
‘There is an incentive program that works pretty well outside the gate, but clearly when you get aboard the plane your incentive model needs to change.
‘We do empower our front-line folks to a degree, but we need to expand that to allow a little more common sense.’
Munoz wrapped up the interview by saying he does not plan to resign, despite the controversy surrounding him and his airline.
‘The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment,’ Munoz’s latest statement began
‘I was hired to make United better, we have been doing that and that’s what I will continue to do,’ he said.
Shortly before the interview took place, a new video emerged showing part of the conversation Dr Dao had with police aboard the United flight.
The video, which was shot by a female passenger seated directly behind the doctor, starts by showing a police officer stood in the aisle.
‘I won’t go, I’m a physician. I have to be at work tomorrow, eight o’clock,’ Dr Dao is heard saying.
He is then seen speaking to someone on the phone, and is heard saying: ‘I… I tell you… make a lawsuit against United Airlines.
The officer is then heard in the video again asking Dr Dao to leave.
‘No I am not going,’ he replies, shaking his head angrily.
The cop then says: ‘Well… I have to drag you… You know how this is going to end up happening, right?’
Dao then replies: ‘You can drag me, I’m not going. I’m staying right here. You’ll have to drag me.’
The cop then says, ‘I’m just telling you, it’s going to be a lot harder for you…’, before Dao interrupts with: ‘Yes I know that, I’d rather go to jail.’
‘You’d rather go to jail than just getting off,’ the cop replies, while sounded confused at the comment.
A new video from the flight shows Dr Dao sat in his seat (left) before a police officer arrived and asked him to leave (right) This graph shows how United’s stock price took a severe hit on Tuesday morning, before recovering throughout the day and into Wednesday
‘Yes,’ Dao is heard saying.
The two then continues speaking for a few more seconds, with Dr Dao mentioning he had flown to Chicago from Los Angeles and was desperate to get home, before the video cuts off.
The new video emerged after United’s boss sent a third memo to staff on Tuesday afternoon about the incident.
‘I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right,’ Munoz wrote in the letter.
‘It’s never too late to do the right thing.
‘I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what’s broken so this never happens again.
‘This will include a thorough review of crew movement, our policies incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement.
‘We’ll communicate the results of our review by April 30th.
‘I promise you we will do better.’
Earlier in the day, Dr Dao told Kentucky network WLKY ‘everything’ was injured after the ordeal.
Dr David Dao has been revealed as the man who was dragged from a United flight in Chicago on Sunday. He is pictured with his wife, Teresa, and their grandchildren Dr Dao had refused to to give up his seat on the overbooked United flight from Chicago to Louisville on Sunday night was dragged off the plane by three cops The doctor was bleeding from the face in videos of the incident, and his head could clearly be seen being slammed into an armrest.
A Chicago Aviation Department officer has been placed on leave over the incident.
On Monday, the United CEO described how flight crews had offered up to $1,000 in compensation for anyone willing to catch the next flight before approaching the passenger to ‘explain apologetically’ that he was being denied boarding.
He also said at the time that while he was ‘upset’ to hear about the man being violently dragged off the flight, that airline crew had simply been following ‘established procedures.’
His latest statements on Wednesday morning and Tuesday afternoon appeared to fly contradictory to those initial statements.
Munoz made $6,736,112 in his role with the airline last year, according to Salary.com.
United’s stock price took a serious hit on Tuesday, falling almost three per cent in morning trading, before it rebounded in the afternoon and closed 1.1 per cent lower than it started the day.
The drop wiped $255million off the airline’s market cap.
It is due to open trading at 9am on Wednesday morning at $71.52 – a 1.15 per cent increase from close of trading on Tuesday evening.
United Continental Holding’s price peaked this week at $72.04 at 2:45pm on Monday.