American Airlines CEO set to retire in March; company announces successor

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American Airlines announced Tuesday who will succeed CEO Doug Parker, who is set to retire at the end of March 2022.

Parker, who has had a career in airline leadership for decades, is set to step down from his chief executive officer position on March 31, according to a news release. He will continue to serve as the chairman of the Fort Worth-based company’s board of directors. Robert Isom, the airline’s current president, who oversees the company’s operations, planning, marketing, sales, alliances and pricing, will take over the role and join the board on the last day of March.

“It has been the privilege of my life to serve for 20 years as an airline CEO. I am forever grateful to the American team, whose commitment to taking care of each other and our customers has never wavered and will continue to drive our success going forward,” Parker said in the release, adding praise for his successor.

“I have worked with Robert for two decades and I am incredibly pleased that he will be the next CEO of American Airlines, which is truly the best job in our industry,” Parker said. “Robert is a collaborative leader with deep operational expertise and global industry experience. His efforts to guide and support our team throughout the pandemic have been nothing short of phenomenal. ... I feel extremely fortunate to hand the reins to this clear and capable leader.”

Isom was named president of American Airlines in 2016, and brought “more than 30 years of global industry and leadership experience,” the news release said. Isom, who previously was the company’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, also served in the same positions at US Airways and previously worked at GMAC, Northwest Airlines and America West Airlines.

“I am humbled to serve as CEO of American Airlines,” Isom said. “Over the past several years, our airline and our industry have gone through a period of transformative change. And with change comes opportunity.”

Parker is retiring after joining the American Airlines team in 1986. For years, he held “a number of financial management positions,” with the company, before joining Northwest Airlines as vice president, assistant treasurer and vice president of financial planning and analysis. He later went on to join the America West team in 1995 where he later served as chairman, president and CEO.

“He became the CEO at America West just 10 days before Sept. 11, 2001, and led the carrier through the crisis,” the release said.

“Over the span of his 35-year career, Doug has been an architect and advocate for a more vibrant, resilient and secure aviation industry,” Lead Independent Director John Cahill said. “At American, Doug has overseen unprecedented investment in our team and our product and set the standard for servant leadership, tirelessly championing our people and establishing an accessible and inclusive culture.”