On Tuesday, United Airlines and its CEO faced mounting pressures from a worldwide backlash over its treatment of a passenger who was dragged from his seat on a plane last Sunday to make room for four employees on the overbooked flight.
According to Thomson Reuters, the US Department of Transportation launched an inquiry into the incident and called for new rules to curb the airline practice of overbooking flights.
United CEO Oscar Munoz issued a statement on Tuesday apologizing to Dao without naming him. “I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way.” On Monday, Munoz issued a memo to employees defending the company but not apologizing to the passenger.
Video showing Dao being yanked from his seat by airport security Sunday evening and dragged from United Airlines Flight 3411 at Chicago O’Hare International Airport went viral and sparked global outrage.
United has about 20% of total U.S.-China airline traffic and has a partnership with Air China, the country’s third-largest airline, according to analysts.
Shares of United Continental closed down 1.1% at $70.71, after falling as much as 4.4% earlier. The company shed as much as about $1 billion in market value before ending the day with a loss of about $250 million. More than 16 million United shares changed hands, the most for any session in a year. The stock is down about 3% for the year.
This is the second time in less than a month that United has been caught in a social media storm. In late March, a United gate agent’s decision to refuse to board two teenage girls wearing leggings provoked a viral backlash.