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FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 file photo, U.S. Airways and American Airlines planes are shown at gates at DFW International Airport in Grapevine, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)
US Airways to rule executive ranks in American merger
First Published Jun 10 2013 06:47 pm • Last Updated Jun 10 2013 09:57 pm

Dallas • The new American Airlines will have more top executives from smaller but more successful US Airways than from the current American.

Five US Airways executives will follow their current CEO, Doug Parker, when he takes control after the airlines complete their proposed merger. Three executives from American parent AMR Corp. were named to the new company’s leadership team.

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AMR and US Airways Group Inc. hope to complete their proposed merger this summer. The deal still needs approval by U.S. antitrust regulators and AMR’s bankruptcy creditors.

Although AMR creditors and shareholders will own 72 percent of the new company, and it will still be based in Fort Worth, Texas, the makeup of the executive team underscores that it was Parker who drove the merger and convinced AMR’s unions and creditors to support him.

US Airways veterans will hold the most important management jobs, including president, chief financial officer and chief operating officer. The new company’s 12-member board will have four holdovers from US Airways and three from AMR.

AMR filed for bankruptcy protection in November 2011. For many months, CEO Tom Horton considered the idea of emerging from Chapter 11 as a stand-alone company, not a merger partner, but creditors decided otherwise. Horton will serve briefly as chairman of the new company — to be called American Airlines Group Inc. — before exiting next year.

The senior executives joining from US Airways are Scott Kirby, who will keep his title of president, Derek Kerr as chief financial officer, Robert Isom as chief operating officer, and Elise Eberwein and Stephen Johnson as executive vice presidents.

From AMR’s ranks, Parker and Horton picked Beverly Goulet as chief integration officer, Maya Leibman as chief information officer, and William Ris as senior vice president of government affairs.

Another AMR veteran, Daniel Garton, will step down as CEO of American’s regional-flying affiliate American Eagle later this year, the companies said. No immediate successor was named.

Several top AMR executives were passed over and will leave, including chief commercial officer Virasb Vahidi, CFO Bella Goren and senior vice president for people Denise Lynn.

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"Mergers unfortunately result in departures, and there are some on both teams," Parker wrote in a note Monday to employees of both companies.

AMR turned down interview requests for several of the departing executives.

US Airways is only half as big as American in miles flown by passengers, the usual standard by which airlines are measured. At the start of 2013, US Airways had 340 planes while American had 614. It also has fewer than half as many employees.

US Airways, however, has been more successful. Analysts credit Parker for squeezing record profits from an airline that has an inferior route network compared with the larger United Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

Last year, US Airways earned $637 million compared with AMR’s bankruptcy loss of $1.9 billion. In the past five years, including a recession and high fuel prices that battered the industry, US Airways lost $1.2 billion, but AMR lost $7.2 billion.

American’s unions have long fought with their company’s management over pay and other issues, and they were eager to see a shake-up. The Allied Pilots Association praised the future management.

"This shows that a culture change is happening at American," Dennis Tajer, a pilots’ union spokesman, said in an interview. "This can only increase employees’ enthusiasm and have a positive effect on customer service."


Follow David Koenig at http://www.twitter.com/airlinewriter

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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