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American Airlines CEO earns $11.7 million in 2015

Star-Telegram

American Airlines chief executive Doug Parker earned $11.7 million last year, mostly from a stock award granted last April.

According to the Fort Worth-based company’s proxy filing made on Friday, Parker received a salary of $231,538 and a stock award worth $10.3 million for 2015. Last spring, Parker announced that he would no longer receive a cash salary and instead that all of his compensation would be based on stock.

American’s stock fell 18.5 percent in 2015 and has continued to drop in value, down 17 percent since the beginning of the year. Shares of American [ticker: AAL] were trading around $35.04, down 93 cents, at 9 a.m. CDT on Friday.

Although Parker is not earning a salary, he is gaining millions from stock sales. In June, he outlined a divestiture plan to sell stock appreciation rights he received while he was chief executive of US Airways. The stock rights were set to expire at the middle of this year. So far, he has gained $42.4 million in stock sales related to that plan.

In the proxy, American disclosed that Parker also asked the board to terminate his existing contract, which began in 2007 when he was still chief executive of US Airways, that included a set level of compensation and benefits. Instead of having a contract, Parker is now an at-will employee of American like the other executives on the company’s management team and front-line workers.

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“It didn’t seem right to me that I should be the only person at American with an employment contract,” Parker wrote in a letter to employees on Friday. “The contract protected me against a number of things that I don’t think I should be protected against – such as if I get fired or if unhappy shareholders gain control of the American Board of Directors.”

Parker emphasized that his request to get rid of his contract doesn’t mean he plans to leave the top position at the airline.

“To be crystal clear, just because I don’t have a contract doesn’t mean I intend to leave American soon; rather it is just another way of demonstrating how much I enjoy what I do, my excitement about our future, and how privileged I feel to be working with all of you at American Airlines,” Parker said in the letter.

American said it will hold its shareholder meeting in New York on June 8 at 9 a.m.

There are two shareholder proposals requesting the company annually disclose any lobbying expenses, political donations and payments to non-profit groups that are lobbying on aviation issues. One proposal says American spent $17.8 million on federal lobbying in 2013 and 2014.

“Transparent reporting would reveal whether company assets are being used for objectives contrary to American Airlinles’ long-term interests,” the shareholder proposal said.

The board suggests that shareholders vote against both proposals as the company already has policies in place to oversee its lobbying efforts and is required to disclose much of its lobbying expenses as part of federal law.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

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