United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz apologized Tuesday for a bloody incident onboard of one of its flights Sunday in which a passenger was brutally removed from the plane to make room for its own employees.
“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. No one should be mistreated this way,” Munoz said in a statement published on the airline's official website.
“We take full responsibility and we will work to make it right,” Munoz said.
The statement came after an initial response from the top executive, which said he was sorry for “re-accomodating” the passenger, was accused of sidestepping responsibility and downplaying the severity of the incident.
In an internal memo Monday, Oscar said the flight attendants on flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville were performing according to procedure and had his full support.
The horrific incident, coupled with the company's defiant stance, has led to an explosion of criticisms on social media in past 24 hours, with quite a number of web users vowing to boycott the airline for its inhumane treatment of passengers.
The outcry against the airline also wiped about 600 million U.S. dollars in the company's stock value, and drove down its value as much as six percent in premarket trading Tuesday.
The incident took place in Chicago O'hare International Airport late Sunday, when a passenger of Asian descent with bloodied face was literally dragged off a plane by airport police.
United Airlines said to make room for four of its employees, four passengers need to be bumped off the plane, and when an monetary incentive of 800 U.S. dollars lured no volunteers, flight attendants said they used computers to “randomly” chose four unlucky passengers.
Three complied with the airlines' demand but the fourth, a 59-year-old doctor who said he needed to reach a patient, refused to disembark.
Airport police were then summoned and wrestled the man out of his seat, in the process of which the man's mouth was hit and bled.
The Department of Transportation has announced a probe Monday.