United Airlines Chief Executive Oscar Munoz has issued an apology for the treatment of a passenger who was dragged from his seat on a United plane, as the company faces a worldwide backlash for its handling of the incident.
"I'm sorry. We will fix this," Munoz said in a statement a day after he had defended the company in a memo that contained no apologies to the passenger. On Tuesday, as the storm of criticism continued, Munoz changed course.
"I deeply apologise to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard," he said in the statement. "No one should ever be mistreated this way."
Video showing a man who appeared to be Asian being snatched from his seat on Sunday evening and dragged from United Airlines Flight 3411 sparked global outrage that escalated as consumers in China, a key United market, called for boycotts of the airline. Regulators in the US said they are reviewing the incident.
United has not identified the passenger. A person with knowledge of the flight who was not authorised to publicly release the information told AP the passenger was a doctor from Kentucky named David Dao, 69.
United Continental Holdings Inc shares fell as much as 4.4 per cent on Tuesday, but recovered some losses and ended 1.1 per cent lower. More than 16 million United shares changed hands, the most for any session in a year.
The stock is down about 3 per cent for the year.
United is also suffering from broader worries among investors about US airline performance.
In his apology, Munoz pledged a "a thorough review of crew movement, our policies for incentivising volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement." The findings will be released by April 30, he said.