U.S. Markets closed

Chicago official apologizes for United passenger removal

(Adds testimony delivered, senators comment)

By David Shepardson and Alana Wise

WASHINGTON, May 4 (Reuters) - Chicago Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans apologized on Thursday for the city employees who forcibly removed a United Airlines passenger, an incident that prompted international condemnation and led the airline to revise its policies.

Evans told a U.S. Senate commerce subcommittee that the April 9 removal of Dr. David Dao was "deeply saddening and personally offensive."

The department has suspended four employees in the incident and said neither the Chicago Police Department nor airport security officers will go on aircraft to deal with customer service matters including overbooking situations.

United has said it will no longer call security to remove onboard passengers for overbooking issues.

Congress is holding its second hearing this week to examine the circumstances surrounding the forced removal of the passenger from a Chicago flight last month.

United President Scott Kirby also appeared at the hearing into the state of airline travel and again apologized for the incident.

Amid looming threats of increased oversight of the largely deregulated industry, United hopes to impress the panel that the airlines can best regulate their practices, including implementing enough changes to improve passenger satisfaction.

Also slated to testify on Thursday are Sara Nelson, the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, and Sharon Pinkerton, an official at the airline trade group Airlines for America.

(Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jeffrey Benkoe)