The phrase "United Airlines" isn't likely to disappear from your newsfeed anytime soon. The airline has been in the internet spotlight ever since it refused to let some girls board wearing leggings, but even more so (and with the most negative press) since a passenger was violently dragged off a United flight last Sunday. The aftermath of the incident has been pretty much a public relations disaster. But now, the United pilots union would like everyone to know that their anger has been misdirected at the airline — due to a technicality.
In a statement on Thursday, the union emphasized that United had nothing to do with the incident, and that the backlash the company is facing has made pilots "infuriated." Why is that? Because the incident actually happened on a plane operated and staffed by Republic Airways.
Yep, you read that right. Republic Airways is an Indianapolis-based regional company that has contracts with major airlines to offer services in commercial flights that involve short or less-traveled routes. The planes belonging to this type of airline usually have about 76 seats or less, and they tend to fly under the flag of companies such as United. Apparently this was the case with the incident involving Dr. David Dao last Sunday.
"The safety and well-being of our passengers is the highest priority for United pilots, and this should not have escalated into a violent encounter. United pilots are infuriated by this event," the union's statement reads. "This occurred on one of our contracted Express carriers, separately owned and operated by Republic Airline, and was ultimately caused by the grossly inappropriate response by the Chicago Department of Aviation."
The statement goes on to explain that "no United employees were involved in the physical altercation" and urges social media users to direct their anger at the Chicago Aviation Department.
The union members say they are not blaming Republic Airways for what happened, but they want the public to know United employees were not involved in any capacity.
The statement concludes, "Ultimately, United must be measured by more than this one incident on a single United Express flight; this airline is comprised of more than 82,000 employees, including over 12,500 pilots, working every day to safely fly around the globe."