Oscar Munoz pays price for passenger dragging row as plans to make him United chairman ditched

David Millward
Oscar Munoz - Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

United Airlines has scrapped plans to promote Oscar Munoz next year in the wake of the controversy over the incident in which a fare paying passenger was dragged off a flight last month.

Mr Munoz, who is currently United’s chief executive had been due to be appointed chairman next year.

It is understood the change, announced in a filing to regulators on Friday,  was initiated by Mr Munoz himself.

Mr Munoz will remain the airline’s chief executive and a decision who will become company chairman will be made by the board as a whole.

There had been pressure on Mr Munoz to resign after the incident in which David Dao, a 69-year old Vietnamese-born doctor, was hauled off a flight from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky by police to make room for United Airlines staff.

Dr Dao who, according to his lawyer lost two teeth and suffered concussion, is expected to sue the airline.

Mr Munoz faced heavy criticism for his initial response to the incident when he backed his staff.

But he recanted as the airline was engulfed in a public relations disaster, with passengers threatening a boycott and competitors revelling in United’s embarrassment.

Mr Munoz apologised profusely, promising that United would never use the authorities to remove a passenger from an overbooked flight again.

“This will never happen again on a United flight. That's my promise. No one should ever be mistreated this way,” he said.

United’s share value dropped in the aftermath of the incident and the US senate commerce committee has demanded a full explanation from Mr Munoz about both the incident and its policy on overbooked flights.

Senators said the airline’s response had been “unsatisfactory and appears to underestimate the public anger about this incident.”

David Dao Credit: Reuters

Mr Munoz, 58, was appointed president and chief executive of United in September 2015. 

On his 38th day in the job he suffered a massive heart attack.

On Jan 5 last year he received a heart transplant following an 11-hour operation and returned to work only two months later.

 

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