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July 22, 2013

New American names its top legal executives

As American Airlines and US Airways get closer to officially merging, more executives are being named at the new combined carrier.

On Monday, Steve Johnson, who will be the new general counsel and head of corporate affaris, announced the appointment of ten executives to his team.

-Howard Kass, vice president of regulatory affairs, and Norma Kaehler, managing director of government affairs, will report to Will Ris, the senior vice president of government affairs.

-Mike Minerva will be vice president of government and airport affairs while Tim Skipworth will be vice president of airport affairs and facilities.

-The new legal team will be Paul Jones, general counsel, Ken Wimberly, deputy general counsel, and Bruce Wark, associate general counsel. 

-Caroline Ray will be corporate secretary while Al Hemenway was named vice president of labor relations.

Johnson also announced the departure of US Airways' Tom Chapman (vice president of government affairs) and Paul Galleberg (vice president of legal affairs) and American's Kevin Cox (vice president of real estate) and Laura Einspanier (vice president of employee relations.)

Keep reading for the full announcement.

-Andrea Ahles

Steve Johnson Leadership Announcement: Corporate Affairs Division

Dear Colleagues:

It is a pleasure to announce the next step in the development of the leadership of the New American Corporate Affairs Division.  Today we announce the appointment of ten executives who will have key leadership roles at the Company and in our group.  They are a group of outstanding, experienced, exceptionally capable individuals who have consistently demonstrated the ability to communicate and work as part of a team to deliver results.  They have also shown, time and again, a commitment to excellence and the ability to develop and maintain relationships critical to our success.  I am confident that this is the right group to lead the Division and our support of New American through the integration and our next set of challenges.  But before the introductions, three important points.

First, these appointments are designed to bring focus to three mission critical functions:

·         The Company’s best-in-the-industry relationships and work with U.S and foreign governments

·         Our strategic relationships and work with key constituents in our local communities: state and municipal governments, national and local business leaders, and airports and airport authorities

·         The Company's legal affairs including our corporate governance, compliance programs and relations and agreements with our labor unions

Although the grouping of these functional areas will be a change in approach for American, it is a structure that we have employed successfully at US Airways, reflects a growing trend in the airline industry, and suits the unique skills of our team's leaders.

Second, in making the specific appointments, we of course looked for substantive expertise, orientation for results and commitment to excellence.  But we also looked for individuals who had demonstrated superior communications skills, a predisposition for working as a member of a team, and a commitment to our employees.  I am very proud of the US Airways team and what we have accomplished and, to be candid, I began the process with a bias towards my US colleagues.  But, over the last year, I have had the opportunity to work closely with and to get to know some outstanding American people.  As a result, we will approach our new challenges with a very balanced leadership team including these appointments and those to be announced in the near future. 

Third, change is a way of life in the airline industry, and there is certain to be change over time in the Corporate Affairs Division.  Today’s appointments are focused on deploying our best leaders and addressing our most immediate challenges: supporting and completing the integration, implementing a new corporate governance regime, negotiating a number of joint collective bargaining agreements, and introducing a new management team and new airline to Washington and our most important communities in the U.S. and around the globe.  But, over time, the Company’s and our peoples’ priorities will change, and our team will continue to develop.  During my four years at US Airways, the corporate affairs group was radically restructured twice as priorities changed, new challenges emerged and team members demonstrated the ability to step up.  I think it highly likely that we will experience the same sort of evolution at New American.

With that said, I am excited to introduce the ten individuals.  Their appointments will become effective with the closing of the merger and confirmation by the new Board of Directors.

As previously announced, Will Ris, Senior Vice President—Government Affairs, will have responsibility for New American's federal and international government and regulatory affairs and global public policy efforts.  Will (currently American’s Senior Vice President—Government Affairs) is the most experienced and, without question, the airline industry's best government and political strategist, and his relationships in Washington and around the world are second to none.  I look forward to working closely with Will and learning from him.

Will’s team will include Howard Kass, as Vice President—Regulatory Affairs, who will oversee our work with the aviation related regulatory authorities in Washington and around the world.  As the most capable and connected airline regulatory lawyer in Washington, Howard is ideally suited to this task.   It will also include Norma Kaehler, one of the most industry’s most experienced lobbyists and unquestionably the most well-connected airline executive on Capitol Hill.  Norma will continue to lead our lobbying and legislative efforts as Managing Director—Government Affairs.  Howard (currently Vice President—Legal and Regulatory Affairs at US) and Norma (currently Managing Director—Government Affairs at American) will report to Will.  All three will continue to be based on Washington.  

Mike Minerva and Tim Skipworth will partner to manage the second functional area.  As Vice President—Government and Airport Affairs, Mike will have responsibility for our lobbying efforts and relationships with state and local governments and business communities nationwide.  He will also have responsibility for the airport affairs function at JFK, LGA, PHL, DCA, IAD, CLT, MIA, ORD and BOS and for all the European airports.  Over the past three years in a similar role, working closely with colleagues in operations and marketing, Mike (currently Vice President—Government and Airport Affairs with responsibility for corporate real estate at US) has led the very successful restructuring of US Airways' relationships with our hub airports and city halls.  As Vice President—Airport Affairs and Facilities, Tim will oversee our relationships with more than 300 non-hub airports as well as our hubs in DFW, PHX and LAX, and our facilities work system-wide.  The legal department will miss Tim (currently Managing Director and Associate General Counsel at American), but his very successful previous tour of duty in corporate real estate and reports from senior leaders at American about his management skills confirm that Tim is ideally suited for this new challenge.  Mike will be based in Washington, Tim will be based at HQ, and both will report to me. 

The New American legal team will be led by three terrific lawyers, Paul JonesKen Wimberly and Bruce Wark.  All three will be based at HQ and report to me.  As Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Paul will have responsibility for labor and employment law and litigation and oversight of the Company's compliance obligations.  He will also have oversight of our labor relations efforts.  Paul is a brilliant intellect, a very experienced and successful legal strategist, a member of a small group of world class Railway Labor Act lawyers, and the architect of many of the successful labor strategies employed over the past five years at US Airways (he is currently Vice President—Legal Affairs at US).

As Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Ken will oversee all of our corporate, commercial and financial legal work and continue to have responsibility for corporate governance initiatives and the management of Board of Directors process and support.  This expansion of responsibilities is a natural next step for Ken (currently American’s Corporate Secretary) after his key roles in the restructuring and the merger negotiations, and we are counting on Ken to play a key role in welcoming and orienting the members of our new Board of Directors.  As Managing Director and Associate General Counsel, Bruce will continue to have responsibility for antitrust and competition legal issues and strategies, environmental law and technology related legal advice (Bruce currently holds the same title at American).

Two other very capable and experienced executives will support the legal and labor effort.  As Vice President--Labor Relations, Al Hemenway will oversee labor relations with our fleet service, maintenance and customer service employees and coordinate collective bargaining negotiations with the unions representing those colleagues.  Al (currently Vice President—Labor Relations at US) will report to Paul.  Caroline Raywill join as Corporate Secretary (the position she holds at US), be responsible for Board and corporate process and administration, and report to Ken.

Please join me in congratulating Will, Paul, Mike, Tim, Ken, Howard, Al, Bruce, Norma and Caroline.  The appointment of these new leaders is exciting and a key milestone in the development of our new team. 

Unfortunately, sometime after completion of the merger, we will say goodbye to some friends and colleagues.  Gary Kennedy’s decision to move on will result in an irreplaceable loss, and the lawyers and I are humbled by the size of the shoes that must be filled.  Gary has had a long, distinguished and uniquely successful career at American, and it seems inconceivable to think of the Company without Gary having a big role.  Through the restructuring and the merger discussions Gary has been a brilliant strategist, an invaluable counselor to the American team, and a dedicated advocate for his clients.  He was one of the first at American to see the opportunity presented by the combination of American Airlines and US Airways and no one has worked harder or more strategically to make the merger work for American's creditors, management team and employees.  He has been unfailingly gracious about my joining American and extremely generous with his time and advice in helping my family and me transition to the Company and relocate to Texas.  Gary, you will be missed.  And saying thanks seems like way too little.  I know I speak for all of the addressees when I say thank you, congratulations, good luck, and please stay in touch.

In addition, we are losing four others who have given so much over the years, contributed significantly to the restructuring and the merger, and will be missed:  Tom Chapman, Kevin Cox, Laura Einspanier and Paul Galleberg.  Tom has played an important role in every US effort in Washington over the last few years, been very helpful in the development of the US Airways government affairs effort over the last two years, and was the quarterback of the early work to build support for the merger in Washington.  Kevin’s leadership in renegotiating American's airport and facilities commitments was a critical component of the restructuring, he has partnered with Mike Minerva to accelerate planning for the enormous post-merger airport integration challenge, and during his time with American he has distinguished himself as an extremely capable and results oriented executive.

Without any previous experience in labor relations and with the restructuring at a tipping point, Laura was thrown into the fire and asked to do something no one had been able to do for years:  reach new collective bargaining agreements with American's unions.  She calmly and expeditiously delivered, paving the way for merger discussions.  Over the years, Laura has been the go-to person at American for challenging assignments, with an outstanding record of success.  Paul Galleberg joined US Airways two years ago, quickly solidified and brought new discipline to our business legal practice, developed and expanded our approach to technology legal work, and played an invaluable role in the merger negotiations.  To each of you we extend our congratulations, our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for your service, and best wishes for the future.

We will now turn to naming the balance of the Corporate Affairs team.  The next step is the selection Managing Directors in legal affairs, government affairs, labor relations and real estate.  We intend to continue the selection process based on the talents and qualities described above, but to do this right will take time, and we expect those efforts will require another few weeks.  I apologize for the need to ask for further patience, and understand the burden of the continuing uncertainty.  But I am looking forward to getting to know more of you and, rest assured, we are committed to completing the selection process as quickly as we can.

Thanks for your continued support.




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