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This will never happen again, United's CEO promises

CNBC logo CNBC 4/12/2017 Lauren Thomas
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"This will never happen again," United (UAL) Chief Executive Oscar Munoz said in an interview Wednesday. "That's my promise."

United share prices rose 1 percent in premarket trade after the interview on ABC's "Good Morning America." The price also was boosted by a better-than-expected earnings report by Delta Air Lines (DAL). Delta also forecast passenger unit revenue will increase 1 to 3 percent in the second quarter, citing healthy demand.

The interview came three days after the violent eviction of a passenger from a United Express flight. Munoz received widespread criticism for his response to a social media storm that followed the posting of video of the confrontation.

Asked if he would resign, Munoz responded: "No. I was hired to make United better, and that's what we'll do."

The CEO added that he didn't issue a more in-depth apology until Tuesday because "the expression of apology is important in a discussion like this."

Explaining why the debacle happened in the first place, Munoz told GMA it was a "system failure," where the company didn't provide the right tools or resources to allow United's "front-line managers" to "use their common sense."

Further, Munoz said United will not use law enforcement to remove on-board passengers in the future, as was the case on Sunday evening. 

How the United fiasco unfolded

Initially on Monday, after video surfaced of the bloodied passenger being dragged from his flight by law enforcement, the stock climbed around 1 percent as Wall Street largely ignored the issue. But overnight outrage spread internationally, and the stock lost as much as 4 percent Tuesday.

Munoz issued a detailed apology, his second statement on the incident, late in the day Tuesday, and shares pared back their initial losses, closing the day down around 1 percent.

"The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment. I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened. Like you, I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way," Munoz said in a statement.

The passenger was identified Tuesday as Dr. David Dao. In a statement, his lawyers said:

"The family of Dr. Dao wants the world to know that they are very appreciative of the outpouring of prayers, concern and support they have received. Currently, they are focused only on Dr. Dao's medical care and treatment." The statement by Chicago attorney Stephen Golan also said the family has asked for privacy.


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