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NEW YORK – United’s widely-condemned violent removal of a passenger from a flight was a “system failure” and no employees will lose their jobs as a result, United Continental chief Oscar Munoz said Tuesday.

”It was a system failure across various areas, so there was never a consideration for firing an employee or anyone around it,” Munoz said on a conference call.

United has been under fire since video went viral showing security personnel dragging battered and bloodied passenger David Dao off an overbooked Chicago flight to make room for an airline employee.

Munoz again apologized for the incident as he opened the quarterly earnings conference call with investors Tuesday.

”We’ve always thought to repay our customers’ trust with the highest quality of service and deepest level of respect and dignity,” Munoz said. “We are and will make the necessary policy changes to ensure this never happens again.”

The incident stoked global outrage and talk of boycotts on social media, although some analysts think it will not significantly affect United’s financial prospects.

Morningstar said, “The flight 3411 incident, while undoubtedly a public relations disaster, will most likely not materially affect United’s medium- to long-term financial and operational performance.”

Airline executives said it was too soon to see any effect of the incident on leisure travelers, or on travelers from China, where the controversy sparked especially sharp criticism because of Dao’s Vietnamese ethnicity.

United President Scott Kirby said some of the airline’s corporate clients had “appropriate questions” about the incident.

”We feel like we’ve managed that pretty well and our corporate accounts are largely supportive,” Kirby said. “They want us to fix this… But they believe in us and believe that we will get this fixed.”

United already has announced some policy changes such as no longer having law enforcement remove customers from flights and requiring employees to sign in at least 60 minutes before the flight. – AFP

KUALA LUMPUR – “Every time I took the seven-hour bus ride to my hometown, none of the passengers are seen wearing the safety belt.”

The observation was shared by Mohd Noor Iqram Rosli, 25, a civil servant working in the capital for the past year, who commuted by bus from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Krai, Kelantan quite regularly.

He said although the bus had the safety belt facilities, passengers rarely seen to have taken the initiative to buckle up.

“Most new buses are equipped with safety belts, but it was not being used optimally by the passengers as there was neither reminder nor monitoring being done onboard the bus,” he told Bernama.

For Sufinah Abd Wahab, 23, who travels by bus between Melaka and Johor at least once in every fortnight, said the express bus service she used rarely had seatbelt facility.

“Every time I heard about bus accidents, I got scared, but what choice do I have?” she said.

Meantime, Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations (FOMCA) Deputy President Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman welcomed the proposal to enforce the use of safety belts for bus passengers.

It is to prevent passengers from being thrown out of the bus during an accident as well as to reduce the risk of death, he said.

“Fomca agrees with the proposal to compel passengers to wear seatbelts as most of them would fall asleep during the ride and would not even realise what hit them until it is too late,” he said.

Last Saturday, Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) chairman Datuk Seri Azman Ujang in the news analysis also suggested preventive measures such as prohibiting express buses to travel during ‘sleepy hours’ and enforcing the use of seatbelts for bus passengers.

This follows the tragedies involving public transport which often occurred during every festive season with the latest being the express bus crash a day before Christmas in which 14 people died and 16 were injured this year.

The 3.40am crash, occurred at KM137.3 North-South Highway in Kampung Jayor, Muar.

According to media report, the bus driver is believed to have lost control of the vehicle which was heading to Kuala Lumpur from Johor Bahru, causing the bus to plunge into a 10-metre deep ravine, resulting in many passengers being thrown out of the vehicle. – BERNAMA