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American Airlines CEO won’t attend Thursday meeting with President Trump

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker will be attending the airline’s annual leadership conference in Dallas on Thursday.
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker will be attending the airline’s annual leadership conference in Dallas on Thursday. Star-Telegram

American Airlines Chief Executive Doug Parker will miss a meeting at the White House on Thursday where airline executives will meet with President Trump to discuss aviation issues.

The meeting conflicts with American’s annual leadership conference in Dallas, where Parker will outline the carrier’s vision for 2017 to more than 1,600 American employees.

“He unfortunately will be unable to attend the meeting and already has been in touch with the White House regarding this conflict,” the Fort Worth-based airline said in a statement. “Doug shares President Trump’s commitment to modernizing our nation’s infrastructure and looks forward to working with his administration to ensure all Americans have access to safe and efficient air travel.”

While Parker won’t be attendance, Southwest Airlines Chief Executive Gary Kelly will be there.

“I don’t know that it’s clear exactly what the administration’s focus will be in aviation,” Kelly said on the Dallas-based carrier’s quarterly earnings call with investors last month, noting that he’d like to discuss modernizing the air traffic control system and taxes that are assessed on airplane tickets.

The major U.S. airlines have also asked the new administration to block additional flights from Persian Gulf carriers into the U.S. The airlines say Emirates, Etihad and Qatar airlines have benefited from large government subsidies in their countries, which violate aviation treaties with the U.S. All three carriers serve Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.

At a press briefing, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the president will likely discuss jobs with the top executives of the nation’s airlines.

“The president is going to want to talk about economic growth and job creation, how he’s enacting orders to make sure the country is safe,” Spicer said.

Top CEO salaries in North Texas

The Star-Telegram has compiled a list of the highest-paid executives in DFW, based on filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Publicly traded companies must report the salaries, bonuses and stock awards for top executives. The figures here reflect pay for 2015, the most recent year for which data is available. The database will be updated when new filings are made.

Airline unions have also pressed the government to overturn its December approval of service by Norwegian Air International, which the unions say skirts labor laws and could undercut U.S. airline operations on trans-Atlantic routes.

Allied Pilots Association President Dan Carey said allowing Norwegian Air to operate in the U.S. runs counter to Trump’s pledge to put America first.

“Just like what happened to U.S. maritime shipping, Norwegian Air International’s flag-of-convenience business model, left unchecked, would destroy a great many U.S. jobs,” Carey said. “With U.S. airline executives planning to address various issues during their White House visit later this week, we are hopeful that President Trump remains committed to putting American jobs first.”

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk