19 Apr 2017

Passenger removal prompts United Airlines China visit

12:58 pm on 19 April 2017

United Airlines chief executive Oscar Munoz has visited the Chinese consulate in Chicago and will meet with more officials on a trip to the country after a passenger was forcibly removed from a flight.

United Airlines chief executive Oscar Munoz.

United Airlines chief executive Oscar Munoz. Photo: AFP

Mr Munoz met with the Chinese consulate in Chicago over the possible impact to bookings from a customer being dragged off a plane but it was too early to tell if business in China had been affected by the event, the company said.

United has apologised repeatedly for the incident in which passenger David Dao was dragged from his seat on a United flight to make room for crew members.

The man is pictured bleeding from the mouth after he was dragged off the overbooked United Airlines flight.

David Dao Photo: Twitter

Dr Dao accused officials of discriminating against him for being Chinese before he was hauled off the plane, according to a fellow passenger. Social media users across the United States, Vietnam and China called for a boycott of the airline over the incident.

Dr Dao was likely to sue over the incident - which left him with a broken nose, a concussion, and two lost teeth - his lawyer said.

Analysts said United has about 20 percent of total US-China traffic and a partnership with China's third-largest airline, Air China.

"It's really too early for us to tell anything about bookings, and in particular last week because it's the week before Easter. That's normally a very low booking period," United president Scott Kirby said on the call.

Shares of United Continental Holdings were down 4.1 percent in afternoon trading, despite earnings that outperformed analyst expectations on several key metrics.

On the call, United Airline chief executive Oscar Munoz said he would have "further conversations with customers and related governmental officials" in an upcoming trip to China that had been planned prior to the incident.

United did not say when Mr Munoz met with the Chinese consulate officials.

United Flight 3411 was the subject of intense global scrutiny last week when Dr Dao, a paying customer, was selected to be involuntarily bumped from his seat.

Dr Dao emigrated to the United States from Vietnam. A spokeswoman for his attorney could not confirm his ethnicity.

A screengrab from footage of the passenger being dragged from the plane.

A screengrab from footage of Dr Dao being dragged from the plane. Photo: Twitter / @JayseDavid

- Reuters

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