Robert Isom Takes Over the Reins at American Airlines as Doug Parker Steps Down

By Paul Riegler on 31 March 2022
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American Airlines announced on Thursday the retirement of Doug Parker, who as CEO of competitor US Airways, engineered a merger that made the combined entity the world’s largest airline, and the elevation of Robert Isom, who has served as the carrier’s president since 2016, to the position of CEO.

“Over the past 35 years, I’ve seen the airline industry change tremendously. And I’m humbled to have been a part of a lot of that change,” Mr. Parker said in a post on his LinkedIn page on Wednesday. “I started my career at American Airlines, and I’m proud to finish my career at American.”

Mr. Parker, who first joined American in 1986 as a financial analyst, is widely regarded as a key architect in the consolidation of the U.S. airline industry that took place between 2001 and 2013.  In the course of his career, Mr. Parker, who became CEO of America West Airlines in September 2001, days before the terrorist attacks on September 11, engineered the merger of that airline with US Airways, which took place in 2005, and then structured a second merger, the combined entity that continued under the US Airways name, with American Airlines, a deal which closed in 2013.

He will continue to have an affiliation with American after his retirement, continuing to hold the title of non-executive chairman of the board of directors.

Mr. Isom, who began his career at Procter & Gamble, worked alongside Mr. Parker during every step along his journey in the airline industry, starting at Northwest Airlines and continuing at America West.

“I’m humbled to have the opportunity to step into the role of CEO at American,” he said in December in a statement.

The new CEO began his career in the airline business in 1995 at America West, where he held several executive-level positions in management and operations.  He joined American as executive vice president and chief operating officer in 2013 at the time of the merger, after holding the same positions at US Airways.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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