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Passenger removal prompts United Airlines China visit

22 April 2017

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK United Airlines (UAL.N) said on Wednesday it plans to testify at an upcoming U.S. House Transportation Committee hearing on commercial airline industry consumer issues after a passenger was dragged off an April 9 flight in Chicago to make room for crew members.

After the incident triggered global outrage, United Chief Executive Oscar Munoz apologized to Dao, his family and its customers, saying the carrier would no longer use law enforcement officers to remove passengers from overbooked flights.

United CEO Oscar Munoz called the debacle "a system failure" during an investor call Tuesday, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, adding that there was "never consideration" of firing any employee. "They want us to fix this".

A United Airlines flight over the weekend turned back to San Francisco International Airport because of a mechanical problem, an airport official said.

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Dao lost two teeth and suffered a concussion and broken nose during the incident, his lawyer, Thomas Demetrio, said.

"I'm sure there was lots of conjecture about me personally", said Munoz.

For the first quarter, United recorded net income of $96 million, down from $313 million a year ago.

United is engaged in a sweeping review of its policies with the aim of creating what Munoz calls a more "common-sense approach to doing things".

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The fiasco has hurt shares of United Continental, which dropped about 4 percent on Tuesday, despite the company reporting better-than-expected earnings late Monday.

Scott Kirby, airline president: It's really too early for us to tell anything about bookings and in particular last week because it was the week before Easter.

Munoz said that the response to a letter that the CEO sent to a group of United's "most loyal customers" was positive. Dao emigrated to the United States from Vietnam.

Barclays analyst Brandon Oglenski told Munoz that "accidents happen. hopefully, we can put this behind us".

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Footage of 69-year-old Dao being pulled screaming from his seat emerged earlier this month, plunging United Airlines into a PR storm and causing their share prices to plummet. Instead, United's lower profits are likely because of a 28.1% increase in fuel costs and a 6.9% increase in labor costs.