PHOTO: A United Airlines Boeing 747-422 at Hong Kong International Airport. (photo via Flickr/Kambui)
With United Airlines still reeling from the April 9 incident in which a man was forcibly dragged off one of its planes to make room for a crew member, CEO Oscar Munoz continued his apology tour by meeting with the Chinese consulate in Chicago.
Officials from United, which is based in Chicago, did not say when Munoz visited the consulate but made reference to it on Tuesday’s earnings call.
United is under fire from both the Chinese and Vietnamese communities for its treatment of 69-year old Dr. David Dao, who was violently removed from his seat after being one of four passengers randomly selected due to an overbooking issue. (United was looking to get four crew members from Chicago to Louisville to be repositioned for work the next morning.)
Dao reportedly yelled that he was being discriminated against for being of Asian descent, a searing allegation given that United controls almost 20 percent of US airline traffic to China and has a partnership with Air China.
Whether business to China will be affected remains to be seen, United President Scott Kirby said on the earnings call.
"It's really too early for us to tell anything about bookings, and in particular last week because it's the week before Easter,” he said. “That's normally a very low booking period.”
But Munoz certainly was trying to be proactive in meeting with a Chinese delegation at the consulate, given the amount of business United does in Asian-Pacific Rim. Munoz is actually headed to China on a trip later this month that was planned well before the April 9 incident.
READ MORE: United Issues Apology To Frequent Fliers
Though United reported a strong first quarter in its earnings call, it has lost $1.1 billion during the last eight days, according to NBC’s Today Show. United stock was trading at $71.52 on April 10, the day after the incident and the day the video started to go to viral. The stock closed on Tuesday, April 18, at $67.75.
Munoz said on the call that he spoke with United’s Board of Directors and received their support while also adding that no United employees were fired over the incident.
"It was a system failure," he said. "There was never a consideration for firing an employee or anyone around it. I'm sure there was a lot of conjecture about me personally. The buck stops here."
He added that “the incident has been a humbling learning experience for all of us here at United.”