It was the departure that rocked the airline industry.
On August 29, American Airlines announced that its president Scott Kirby was leaving the Fort Worth-based carrier and would be replaced by chief operating officer Robert Isom.
Then minutes later, United Airlines announced that Kirby was joining the Chicago-based airline as its new president.
Although executives often change jobs or move between competitors in different industries, Kirby’s move was a surprise as he and Parker had worked together for over 20 years since both men joined America West Airlines in 1995. The two men orchestrated the merger of America West and US Airways in 2005 and then the deal to merge US Airways with bankrupt American.
Although Kirby was Parker’s second-in-command at American, industry analysts said it appeared the company’s board chose Isom as Parker’s successor, if and when Parker decides to step down. Kirby may have a similar opportunity to become CEO at United if and when United’s CEO Oscar Munoz decides to leave.