Society

United Will Not Fire Employees Over David Dao Incident

| by Michael Doherty

United Airlines will reportedly not fire any employees over the April 9 incident in which Dr. David Dao was dragged off of an airplane after refusing to give up his seat to make room for United employees.

"This is a true learning opportunity and will ultimately prove to be a watershed moment for our company as we work harder than ever to put our customers at the center of everything we do," said United CEO Oscar Munoz during an April 18 conference call.

According to Munoz, there was "never consideration" of firing any employees over the incident, which sparked outrage around the world after video footage of Dao's treatment went viral.

According to Dao's attorney, the man suffered a concussion and a broken nose in the incident and lost two teeth.

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It is unclear how the April 9 incident with Dao, which Munoz said occurred due to a "system failure across various areas," will affect the company's business, although the airline's stocks have fallen 3 percent, losing the company $673 million in market value, according to Fox Business.

Munoz said the response to a letter he sent to a group of United's "most loyal customers" was positive.

"A lot of people have ideas and thoughts about how we can make things better, but in that segment, there's been a lot of support," said Munoz, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Munoz reportedly called the situation a "humbling learning experience," according to Fox Business.

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"I also want to apologize to all of our customers," the CEO added. "They can and should expect more from us."

In response to the public outcry over the incident, United has said it will require its employees to book seats at least an hour in advance to avoid similar incidents of passengers being forced to give up their seats after boarding. The airline will also reportedly no longer call law enforcement to remove passengers from its flights unless there is a safety issue.

Spokeswoman Maggie Schmerin said the policy changes were being put into place to ensure incidents like what happened to Dao "never happen again," The Hill reports.

United's first-quarter financial results show higher profits than those expected by analysts, which Munoz said gave the company "a lot of confidence about the foundation" it's building. 

The CEO added that it was clear the company has "further to go in terms of elevating the experience customers have," according to the Chicago Tribune.

United's president, Scott Kirby, said United hopes to become America's most "customer-centric airline" after the incident with Dao.

"Our entire leadership team and our entire airline is focused on learning from this event," he said.

Sources: Chicago Tribune, The Hill, Fox Business / Photo Credit: Tomas Del Coro/Flickr

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