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American Airlines CEO Doug Parker Resigns

American Airlines Group Ltd

AAL 1.14%

CEO Doug Parker will resign next year after running the airline for 20 years and hand over the reins to his longtime adjutant when the company begins to break out of the pandemic.

Robert Isom, who has been President of the United States since 2016, will become CEO on March 31, 2022, the company said Tuesday. Parker will continue to serve as Chairman of the American Board of Directors.

Parker’s biography has been booked by the crisis. He commanded America West Airlines in 2001, just 10 days before the September 11 terrorist attacks.Now he is leaving as an airline Try to get over the Covid-19 pandemic.. He was the champion of integration and engineering mergers that transformed the industry and turned Americans into industry giants.

Parker said last year that airlines needed financial help to avoid a pandemic catastrophe and soon became one of the loudest and most visible supporters of the $ 54 billion government payroll program. I recognized it. Americans are particularly vulnerable and have plunged into a pandemic with more debt than their rivals.

The aid helped avoid the furlough of thousands, but recently complained that some aircraft carriers, including Americans, were suffering from staffing and other issues when they left the pandemic. Is being questioned by a member of the Diet.

People who worked with Mr. Parker describe him as a friendly and friendly person —Global thinker Those who do not hesitate to take risks. He planned an ambitious course for Americans through a pandemic, hoping to earn more income and maintaining a larger schedule than many rivals.

It sometimes contributed to the stumbling block.Americans struggled to staff pilots and needed to reduce flights in July, which has been a pain these days. Cascade of cancellations In late October.

Parker prevented the airline from going bankrupt. As the pandemic began to upset the travel industry, the consequences that some analysts and industry observers were afraid of were possible.

“I’m confident that this is the right time for this transition,” Parker said in a video, adding that it had been working for some time and could have happened earlier without a pandemic. “As we recover from the pandemic, Robert will lead Americans from a place of momentum.”

The United States is not the only major US airline in transition. Gary Kelly,

Southwest Airlines Ltd

Also the longtime CEO of Scheduled to retire early next year..

United Airlines Holdings Ltd

Chief Executive Officer Scott Kirby

I took the reins After the retirement of Oscar Munoz, the airline’s in May 2020

Americans faced challenges even before the pandemic reduced travel demand. Labor relations with airlines were tense, and airlines often lag behind their rivals when it comes to on-time performance and cancellations.

Some of Parker’s predictions have proven to be overly rosy. In 2016, when the US stock was trading at about $ 40, he bet on the analyst a bottle of wine whose US stock would reach $ 60 before the analyst’s 60th birthday. He lost that bet in 2018.

Parker also predicted that 2017 was the end of the aviation industry boom and bust era. “I don’t think we’ll ever lose money again,” he said at the time. “We have airlines that can make a profit in good times and bad times.” Those words came back to annoy him last year when the pandemic disrupted travel. Americans lost $ 8.9 billion last year and have not yet returned to consistent profitability.

It’s up to Isom to illustrate the path of Americans recovering from the pandemic and tackle the additional debt piles the airline has taken to survive. Isom has been an airline heir for many years since the expulsion of then-US President Scott Kirby in 2016.

“He’s the right leader to move Americans to the next stage of growth,” said John Cayhill, an independent American director, in a statement.

A group of nearly 300 airlines has promised “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050, but how do you get there? George Downs of the WSJ is investigating some of the methods proposed by the International Air Transport Association to reduce emissions.Illustration: George Downes

Parker and Isom’s careers have overlapped for 20 years.

Parker, the son of a supermarket executive, joined American in 1986 after earning an MBA from Vanderbilt University. He left the United States in 1991, first joined Northwest Airlines, then to America West Airlines, and became CEO of that airline in 2001.

Parker’s career was characterized by big fluctuations as he seized the opportunity to create a larger airline through a merger with a big rival in a moment of financial hardship. In 2005, he was America West and US Airways Group Inc. Led the merger of. The industry struggled on September 11th US Airways was in Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection.

A few years later, after an American went bankrupt, Parker once again saw the opportunity to combine the two airlines to create an industry giant. American Airways and US Airways merged in 2013, led by Parker, to establish the world’s largest airline in terms of traffic. There was a setback between the two transactions. Parker’s US Airways failed a hostile bid for the acquisition in 2006.

Delta Air Lines Ltd

Rejected in merger negotiations with United.

Isom was Chief Operating Officer of US Airways, leading the post-merger operations of America West and leading the merger with American after the 2013 merger. Previously, he held positions at America West and Northwest Airlines.

This year’s proceedings challenged the partnership between Americans

JetBlue Airlines Ltd

The U.S. Department of Justice, which was attacked in 2020, described Parker in ominous terms as being called the “Godfather of Integration.”

Parker argues that the partnership has created a more stable industry that benefits both businesses and consumers. Although fewer airlines today, he said in a recent interview that each airline has a wide reach, offering travelers more choices, better service and cheaper fares. I am.

Write to Alison sydor alison.sider@wsj.com

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American Airlines CEO Doug Parker Resigns

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