- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 13, 2017

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said it was a “system failure” that led to the violent removal of a seated passenger on a United Airlines flight on Sunday.

“We have not provided our front line supervisors and managers and indidvidusl with the proper tools, policies, procedures that allow them to use their common sense,” Munoz told ABC Nightline, Wednesday night.

It was the first interview Munoz gave after the incident drew global condemnation of the airline for using security personnel to forcibly remove passenger Dr. David Dao, after he was randomly selected to be bumped from the flight to make room for United employees.

Dr. Dao, after refusing to give up his seat on the flight, was violently dragged by airport security through the plane, the incident captured on video by other passengers, which quickly went viral online.

From Monday to Tuesday, Mr. Munoz failed to adequately respond tot he public outrage at the incident. His first public statement used the term “re-accomodate” to describe the treatment of Dr. Dao, inciting anger and mockery on social media for its flippancy.

A second statement, released internally but obtained by CNBC, lauded employees for their handling of the situation, again throwing salt in the wound of public opinion.

By Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Munoz released a third statement, accepting full responsibility and apologizing to Dr. Dao, the passengers and the public about the matter.

Mr. Munoz told ABC he felt “ashamed,” when he firs saw the video, but his first reaction was to understand the facts and circumstances. “My initial words fell short of truly expressing what we were feeling,” he told the news channel.

Asked if he thinks his latest statement on the matter is too little too late, he answered that it’s “never too late to do the right thing. My initial reaction to the process was to get facts and circumstances, and my words failed.”

Mr. Munoz said that moving forward they would never employ the use of security personnel to remove a paid, ticketed passenger seated on the flight.

He was then questioned over a Los Angeles Times article that interviewed California businessman Geoff Fearns, who alleged that on a United flight a week earlier, he was threatened with handcuffs by staff if he didn’t give up his seat for a higher priority passenger.

“I heard about that i don’t know any of the details,” Mr. Munoz told ABC, “but probably a good example of why our policies need to be reexamined.”

A spokesman for United Airlines told the Associated Press on Wednesday it would refund all the passengers on flight 3411 and that Dr. Dao is not at fault. “No, he can’t be… no one should be treated that way period,” he said.

On Wednesday, Dr. Dao filed an emergency “bill of discovery” against the airline in Illinois State Court, NBC news reported, to retrieve evidence that documents the incident to be “preserved and protected.”

This includes surveillance video, cockpit voice recordings, passenger and crew lists, incident reports, among others, NBC reported.

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