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Shares in United Continental were among the worst S&P 500 performers in pre-market trading on Tuesday as the airline remained stuck in the throes of its overbooking scandal and after it said its capacity rose more than initially expected in the first quarter.

The Chicago-based airlines’s shares were down as much as 6.3 per cent in early trading, but have since trimmed their losses to about 3 per cent.

United ignited a firestorm of controversy after video surfaced showing law enforcement officials forcibly dragging a passenger down the aisle of an aircraft. The man was chosen to lose his seat as a result of overbooking, but refused to follow the instructions of the crew.

The situation was further inflamed after United chief executive Oscar Munoz said that while he had deep regrets that the issue arose, “our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this”.

Mr Munoz’s comments drew criticism from many corners, including from former Twitter chief Dick Costolo, who said that “this is one of the most tone deaf corporate emails ever sent, and I should know because I sent some that are surely in the top 10.”

United also late on Monday said it expects its capacity to have risen by 2.6 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter. The airline had previously said it expected the closely watched figure to have risen by 1 – 2 per cent. It also said that passenger unit revenue would likely be “approximately flat”.

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