Management team named for merged American Airlines

Posted Monday, Jun. 10, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The new American Airlines will be led by more US Airways executives than American execs who currently work at the company’s headquarters on Amon Carter Boulevard.

On Monday, American and US Airways announced the new executive team and board of directors for the merged carrier. The airlines expect to close their merger in September as American’s parent company, AMR Corp., emerges from bankruptcy.

In a letter sent to employees on Monday, US Airways chief executive Doug Parker said he “could not be happier” with the new leadership team which includes five US Airways executives and three from American.

“They are experienced airline executives who understand and love our business,” Parker said.

Parker anticipates naming more executives in the weeks ahead and hopes to have the entire management team selected by the time the merger closes. Parker will run the new company as chief executive officer while American’s chief executive, Tom Horton, will become non-executive chairman.

American Eagle chief executive Dan Garton also plans to step down from the regional carrier owned by AMR Corp. later this year. Parker said he will name a replacement for Garton prior to the executive’s departure.

The new executive team includes:

•  Scott Kirby, 45, as president. He is currently US Airways president.

•  Elise Eberwein, 48, executive vice president of people and communications. She is US Airways’ EVP of people, communications and public affairs.

•  Beverly Goulet, 58, will take on the role of chief integration officer. She is currently American Airlines’ treasurer.

•  Robert Isom, 49, chief operating officer, a position he currently holds at US Airways.

•  Stephen Johnson, 56, executive vice president of corporate affairs, a position he currently has at US Airways.

•  Derek Kerr, 48, chief financial officer, the position he holds at US Airways.

•  Maya Leibman, 47, chief information officer, the position she holds at American.

•  William Ris, 65, senior vice president of government affairs, a position he has at American.

Not included in the executive team are several American executives including chief financial officer Bella Goren, general counsel Gary Kennedy, senior vice president of people Denise Lynn, senior vice president of operations Jim Ream, senior vice president of customer service Jon Snook and chief commercial officer Virasb Vahidi, who was in charge of launching American’s new brand and livery design earlier this year.

As part of the merger agreement approved by the bankruptcy court, the seven American executives who will not stay on with the merged carrier will receive lump sum payments equal to twice their annual salary, two times their annual bonus plus another payment equal to two times any eligible long-term incentive bonuses. They will also receive paid health insurance for two years and first-class seats for themselves and their families for life.

Horton told employees that he is grateful for the work performed by the departing American executives while the Fort Worth-based carrier has been in bankruptcy.

He also acknowledged the selection of many executives from US Airways.

“The new leadership team is composed mostly of leaders who have worked closely with Doug over the years, along with senior leaders who now serve on American’s team,” Horton said. “As CEO of the merged company, Doug’s first role is to choose the people to execute his plans to build a strong and successful future for the new American.”

Industry analysts were not surprised by the make-up of the new executive team or the board. Several anticipated that many of American’s current executives would lose their positions to their counterparts at US Airways.

“They have clearly put together what appears on paper to be a very good team,” said Bill Swelbar, an airline researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Swelbar noted that with the departure of Garton, it appears likely that US Airways will not spin out American Eagle.

“There is probably a greater likelihood that Eagle does not get spun out since that was why Garton took the job,” Swelbar said. “He thought he would have his own airline to run.”

Union leaders, who have pushed for different managers since the carrier entered bankruptcy, applauded the announcement, saying they look forward to working with the new executives.

“The announcement demonstrates a commitment to blend both companies in order to make the new American Airlines the industry leader,” said Laura Glading, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants.

The Allied Pilots Association said the new leaders have the opportunity to change the airline’s corporate culture and customer service.

“We intend to do all we can to help ensure that American Airlines once again becomes a great place to work for our pilots and fellow employees, and a great airline to fly for our passengers,” said APA President Keith Wilson.

The merging carriers also named a new board of directors on Monday, bringing on three existing US Airways directors and two current American directors. The new board also includes five independent directors.

Alberto Ibarguen and Ray Robinson were selected from American's current board while Matthew Hart, Richard Kraemer, Denise O'Leary were picked from US Airways existing board.

The independent directors named to the board include John Cahill, executive chairman of Kraft Foods; James Albaugh, senior advisor to Blackstone Group and a former Boeing executive; Jeffrey Benjamin, a senior adviser to Cyrus Capital Partners; Michael Embler, chief investment officer of Franklin Mutual Advisers; and Richard Schifter, a partner at Fort Worth's TPG Capital.

American's creditors committee and an ad hoc committee of creditors were involved in the process of selecting the new independent board members. As previously announced, Horton will become non-executive chairman of the board until the first annual meeting of the new company while Parker, as CEO, will also have a seat on the board.

Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631 Twitter: @Sky_Talk

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