United Airlines’ CEO on Wednesday tried to stem the damage from one of the company’s biggest public-relations disasters, vowing that what happened to Dr. David Dao — who was dragged screaming off a flight in Chicago — would “never happen again.”
“You saw us at a bad moment and this can never, will never happen again on a United Airlines flight. That’s my premise and my promise,” top exec Oscar Munoz told ABC’s “Good Morning America” in his first interview since the weekend fiasco that has sparked international outrage.
Dao, a 69-year-old Kentucky physician, was captured on video Sunday being hauled off a plane by his arms by security personnel at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Dao was bloodied and hospitalized.
Munoz told ABC that he felt “shame” when he saw the damning video that has since gone viral.
“As I think about our business and our people, the first thing I think is important to say is to apologize to Dr. Dao, his family, the passengers on that flight, our customers, our employees. That is not who our family at United is,” he said.
Munoz’s comments are in stark contrast to the tone-deaf memo he originally sent to United staff, in which he called Dao “disruptive and belligerent” and said employees went “above and beyond.”
He began to backtrack Tuesday — the same day United’s stock plummeted to the tune of $257 million — when he apologized in a statement and called the episode, which is being investigated by the federal Department of Transportation, “truly horrific.”
When asked about his internal memo, Munoz said, “I think my first reaction to most issues is to get the facts and circumstances and my initial words fell short of truly expressing what we were feeling. And that’s something I learned from.”
He added, “That shame and embarrassment was pretty palpable for a lot of our family.”