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American VP of Flight John Hale steps down

Captain John Hale is stepping down as American Airlines’ chief pilot and vice president of flight in May.
Captain John Hale is stepping down as American Airlines’ chief pilot and vice president of flight in May. Courtesy of American Airlines

American Airlines announced on Tuesday that vice president of flight John Hale will step down in May.

He will be replaced by Kimball Stone, the airline’s current vice president of the integrated operations center. Stone has worked at the Fort Worth-based carrier for 26 years and is qualified to fly the Boeing 777.

Although Stone will assume Hale’s duties as vice president of flight, Bob Johnson will take on Hale’s chief pilot role at the airline.

In announcing the leadership changes, senior vice president Tim Campbell said the airline has a transition plan in place and is ready for the challenges of rebanking its two largest hubs, DFW and Chicago, and moving into the new integrated operations center later this year.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve all accomplished thus far and look forward to working with you all on the challenges ahead,” Campbell wrote in a letter sent to pilots on Tuesday. “Please join me in thanking Captain Hale for his service and in welcoming Captain Stone to his new role.”

FULL LETTER FROM AMERICAN SENIOR VP TIM CAMPBELL

Dear Flight Operations Team,

Several weeks ago, Capt. John Hale notified me of his desire to step back from his role as vice president of Flight and return to what he really loves – flying airplanes. To say these past five years have been some of the most complex and challenging is an understatement. So with mixed emotions I am writing to share with you our plan to honor John’s request in early May. Those of you who have seen John lately may have noticed he has seemed even more upbeat than usual. The prospect of getting back to the roots of his love of aviation, as well as having more time to spend with Bonnie and the newest of his six grandkids was too much to hide. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen him so happy.

While no time ever seems good to make leadership changes of this magnitude, we are very fortunate to have time for a thoughtful and smooth transition to Captain Kimball Stone, our current vice president of the IOC. Throughout his 26 years at American, Captain Stone has flown a wide variety of aircraft, most recently qualified on the 777, and held numerous roles within Flight. The breadth and depth of experience in the Flight department has prepared him well for this new role. In addition, during his tenure at IOC, he’s demonstrated skills that will be invaluable as we execute a myriad of integration projects this year and beyond. He has the respect of his colleagues, both in and outside the company and I couldn’t be happier for him to return to Flight with the added insight he brings from running IOC.

From an FAA perspective, Kimball will remain the Director of Operations on the AA certificate. Capt. Bob Johnson will assume Capt. John Hale’s Chief Pilot role on the AA Ops Spec. Both will retain these positions when the FAA issues a Single Operating Certificate to American next month.

I will announce Kimball’s successor shortly. I assure you we have an orderly transition planned. In the interim, John will continue to lead Flight and Kimball will run the IOC through the end of April.

2015 will be a year of even more change with SOC, rebanking at DFW and ORD later this month, the new IOC opening this fall, and the consolidation of our passenger service systems (PSS) into SABRE. I’m very proud of what we’ve all accomplished thus far and look forward to working with you all on the challenges ahead.

Please join me in thanking Captain Hale for his service and in welcoming Captain Stone to his new role.

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