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February 14, 2013

New leader of American never planned to be a CEO

The man who once said he never planned to be a CEO is now in charge of the world's largest airline.

Doug Parker, 51, who has led the campaign to merge US Airways with American Airlines, has been tapped to lead the combined company as chief executive officer.

AMR Corp. Chairman and CEO Tom Horton will become nonexecutive chairman.

As the head of US Airways and previously America West, Parker has advocated for industry consolidation for years with failed attempts to buy Delta Air Lines and merge with United Airlines.

But with the American merger, Parker will get his chance to create the nation's pre-eminent airline, something he has spent more than a year campaigning for.

"We think we have an opportunity here to build the greatest airline in the world and restore American to the level that it was back when I worked there, when we were all so proud of the airline," Parker said in an interview last summer.

Parker began his career at American as a financial analyst in 1986, where he met his wife Gwen, then a flight attendant.

He has since worked at several airlines, including in executive positions at Northwest Airlines and America West.

At 39, he was named chief executive of America West, 10 days before the 9-11 attacks.

As planes flew empty for the next few months, Parker lobbied Congress for an airline bailout and loan guarantees to keep his airline aloft.

In 2005, he merged America West with US Airways, which was facing liquidation in its second bankruptcy.

"I was drawn to the challenge of taking what I'd learned and using it to build something new," Parker said in 2010 during a commencement address at his alma mater, Albion College in Michigan. "I never set out to be a CEO or anything close to it."

To read the full story that appeared in Thursday's Star-Telegram, click here.

-Andrea Ahles

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/02/13/4620380/expected-leader-of-new-american.html#storylink=cpy



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