On 17 March 2017, United Airlines released a press statement that declared their CEO, Oscar Munoz, had been given an award for public relations and communications.
The 'Communicator of the Year' award, given by PRWeek, was given to Munoz for the following reasons:
Munoz has shown himself to be a smart, dedicated, and excellent leader who understands the value of communications.
His ability to connect and share with employees his vision for the airline, and get them to rally behind it, is a key reason PRWeek named him 2017 Communicator of the Year.
United Airlines wrote in the release:
Munoz has repeatedly referred to United as a 'people business,' and his strategy from day one has been to reconnect with employees and customers. That philosophy was best summed up in his remarks when accepting the award on behalf of United’s more than 87,000 employees, saying, 'Communication and communication strategy is not just part of the game, it is the game.'
Shares in United Airlines were sliding on the morning of Thursday 11 April after a video emerged of a man being ejected from his seat and thrown into an armrest, resulting in an injury that left him bleeding from the mouth.
He was then dragged down the aisle to the exit.
The manner with which United Airlines responded to the incident has been widely ridiculed on social media.
A statement on 10 April read:
This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers.
Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened.
We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation.
In an email to employees Oscar Munoz described the customer as:
disruptive and belligerent.
The New York Post later labelled Munoz: