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United executives take questions about dragging passenger

The CEO and other United Airlines executives had comments and took questions Tuesday from reporters about the passenger incident on a plane last week.

CEO Oscar Munoz began the conference call, which is mostly for Wall Street analysts, by again apologizing for the April 9 incident in which security officers dragged a man off a United Express plane in Chicago when he refused to give up his seat.

Here are some of the questions and answers; both have been edited for length.

Q. Was there ever talk of anyone losing their job within management, lower down?

Munoz: The buck stops here. I’m sure there was lots of conjecture about me personally. I’ve met with the board … they have issued a letter of support. It was a system failure across various areas. So no, there was never a consideration for firing an employee.

Q. Are you seeing any effect at all on (sales to) leisure customers?

Scott Kirby, airline president: It’s really too early for us to tell anything about bookings and in particular last week because it was the week before Easter. That’s normally a very low-booking period. So we just really don’t have any quantifiable data. Our forecast for the (April-through-June) quarter didn’t change at all.

Q. There was reaction in China to the incident. Have you seen any impact on China bookings?

Munoz: There certainly has been some sentiment, and I did visit with the Chinese consulate here locally to discuss that with them. And I will be heading out there in a couple of weeks to have further conversations with customers and really the governmental officials.

Q. You mean in reaction to this you’re going to make a China trip?

Munoz: No. It’s been a trip that was planned for some time.

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