United Airlines lost almost $1bn days after passenger’s violent eviction

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Shares of United Continental Holdings Inc. fell by as much as 4.4 per cent in early trading on Wall Street, wiping nearly $1billion off the company’s value, the Daily Mail reports.

But by the closing bell, the stock recovered somewhat and ended the day at $70.71 a share – which is a loss of 1.13 per cent.

The airline ended the day having lost $255million.

In premarket trading on Tuesday, the share price dropped by 2.4 per cent, according to MarketWatch.

Investors currently peg United’s market capitalization at $22.5billion.

The 2.4 per cent drop is an improvement over the 6 per cent drop in share price that had been reported in premarket trading hours earlier.

A drop in share price of 6 per cent would translate into a $1.4billion depreciation in value.

Interestingly enough, the backlash that erupted on Monday had little effect on United’s stock price.

By the close of trading on Monday, United shares rose 0.9 per cent.

But the premarket trading on Tuesday indicates that investors are nervous the public relations furor could very well put a dent in the airline’s bottom line.

Video of police officers dragging a passenger from an overbooked United Airlines flight sparked an uproar Monday on social media, but United’s CEO defended his employees, saying they followed proper procedures and had no choice but to call authorities and remove the man, who was later identified as 69-year-old David Dao.

As the flight waited to depart from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, officers could be seen grabbing the screaming Dao from a window seat, pulling him across the armrest and dragging him down the aisle by his arms.

United was trying to make room for four employees of a partner airline on the Sunday evening flight to Louisville, Kentucky.

Other passengers on Sunday night’s United Express Flight 3411 are heard saying: ‘Please, my God’, ‘What are you doing?’, ‘This is wrong’, ‘Look at what you did to him’ and ‘Busted his lip’.

Passenger Audra D. Bridges posted the video on Facebook.

Her husband, Tyler Bridges, said United offered $400 and then $800 vouchers and a hotel stay for volunteers to give up their seats. When no one volunteered, a United manager came on the plane and announced that passengers would be chosen at random.

‘We almost felt like we were being taken hostage,’ Tyler Bridges said. ‘We were stuck there. You can’t do anything as a traveler. You’re relying on the airline.’

Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines’ parent company, apologized first in a written statement and then in a letter to employees Monday evening.

Munoz said he was ‘upset to see and hear about what happened’ at O’Hare.

He added, however, that the man dragged off the plane had ignored requests by crew members to leave and became ‘disruptive and belligerent,’ making it necessary to call airport police.

‘Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this,’ Munoz told employees.

‘While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right.’

Munoz said that the airline might learn from the experience, and it was continuing to look into the incident.

The flight was operated for United by Republic Airline, which United hires to fly United Express flights.

Munoz said four Republic employees approached United’s gate agents after the plane was fully loaded and said they needed to board.

He said the airline asked for volunteers to give up their seats, and then moved to involuntary bumping, offering up to $1,000 in compensation.

Dao told the manager that he was a doctor who needed to see patients in the morning, Tyler Bridges said.

‘He was kind of saying that he was being singled out because he’s a Chinese man’ when speaking to the manager, who was African-American, Bridges said.

‘You should know what this is like,’ the man said, according to Bridges.

Dao is Vietnamese-American.

DailyMail.com can reveal Dr Dao is a father of five and a grandfather, who specializes in internal medicine.

Four of his five children are doctors.

His wife Teresa, 69, is a pediatrician who trained at Ho Chi Minh University in Saigon and also practices in Elizabethtown, Kentucky – about 40 miles south of Louisville.

Their eldest son Tim, 34, practices medicine in Texas; their second son Ben, 31, is a medical graduate; their daughter Christine, 33, is a doctor in Durham, NC; and their youngster daughter Angela, 27, is a medical graduate of the University of Kentucky.

Outraged United customers have taken to social media to lash out the airline and announce their intention to boycott the firm.

Alongside a picture of a destroyed frequent-flyer card, Steven Reichert wrote: ‘Cutting up my United frequent flyer card, and will NEVER EVER fly them again. #boycottunited #united.’

Phyllis Brown added: ‘Cutting up my United credit card in protest of their recent brutal treatment of a legal paying passenger. Please do the same.’