CEO issues new apology as details of passenger's past emerge

By Tuesday afternoon, nearly two days after the Sunday evening confrontation in Chicago, CEO Oscar Munoz issued his most contrite apology yet as details emerged about the man seen on cellphone videos recorded by other passengers at O'Hare Airport.

The United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz initially called the event upsetting and apologized for "having to re-accomodate these customers". I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: "my deepest apologies for what happened", Munoz said Tuesday, in marked contrast to his Monday statement and memo to staff. He said crew members "were left with no choice but to call Chicago aviation security officers to assist in removing the customer from the flight", and that at one point the passenger "continued to resist - running back on to the aircraft in defiance of both our crew and security officials".

"Any one of us could've been that person who was being hauled out of the, hauled out of the plane", Powell said.

Munoz was widely criticized for two statements Monday about the altercation in which he described the 69-year-old man taken off the plane as "disruptive and belligerent".

Munoz, a former railroad executive who took over the helm at United in 2015, had already been under pressure from activist investors to improve the airline's performance, including its customer relations.

The incident occurred Sunday on a United Express flight from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky.

The comments were in stark contrast to the company's initial response, in which it seemed to at least partially blame the passenger, inflaming worldwide outrage.

The incident risks a backlash against United from passengers who could boycott the airline as the busy summer travel season is about to begin.

United has about 20 percent of total U.S. -China airline traffic and has a partnership with Air China, the country's third-largest airline, according to analysts. It flies to more Chinese cities than any other USA carrier. Last year, United added nonstop flights from San Francisco to Hangzhou, its fifth destination in mainland China.

The airline has been vilified after aviation police officials violently removed a man from a plane at O'Hare worldwide airport in Chicago on Sunday, in an incident captured on video by several passengers.

Passengers recorded video of three Chicago airport security officers confronting the man, one officer grabbing him as he screamed and dragging him by his arms down the plane's isle. The company shed as much as about $1 billion in market value before ending the day with a loss of about $250 million. United stock shares fell dramatically.

Now, a day and a half later, United Airlines is admitting it did something wrong.

Shares of the United Airlines plunged almost 4 percent in the morning session Tuesday, April 11, as outrage on social media over a passenger's forcible removal from a flight continued to spread.

  • Zachary Reyes