DALLAS – In a video posted on American Airlines’ YouTube channel on Thursday afternoon, CEO Tom Horton said goodbye to American after leading it through two years of bankruptcy and beginning the merger with US Airways.
“As you know, while I'll remain on as chairman of the board, the CEO reins will pass to Doug Parker, a first rate leader and longtime friend. I'll be cheering you to even greater heights under Doug's leadership,” Horton said.
US Airways CEO Doug Parker will take over as the chief executive of the new American Airlines when the merger becomes official on Monday. The new airline will be known as American Airlines Group and trade under the AAL ticker symbol. AMR, the corporate name and stock symbol, will become history.
“Monday marks the end of one journey and the beginning of another. American is in great shape to join forces with US Airways and compete globally for our customers' business. Everything we’ve achieved will give the new American great momentum from day one,” Horton added.
Horton was essentially forced out as Parker and American’s labor union pushed hard for the merger. Horton will remain as chairman of the board for one year though he will not maintain an office at American’s Fort Worth headquarters.
This summer, a New York bankruptcy judge refused to approve at $19.875-million dollar severance for Horton saying it was up to the new company to make such a payment rather than a bankruptcy court.
Horton praised employees in his goodbye video on Thursday, thanked them for their sacrifice during the bankruptcy, and said American has a bright future ahead with a new fleet and new routes being implemented.
“No words here could do justice to the gratitude and respect I have for all of you. It has been a great privilege to be part of an extraordinary team at an extraordinary time,” Horton explained.
Horton joined AMR in 1985, according to the airline, and has held a range of leadership positions domestically and internationally.
Horton left the airline in 2002 to become CFO of AT&T but returned four years later.
He took over as CEO from Gerard Arpey in November 2011 when American filed bankruptcy.
Horton led American through a brutal restructuring when the airline cut $2-billion dollars from its bottom line, sliced labor costs by 17%, froze pensions, and eliminated 8,600 positions.
Horton has an MBA from SMU and graduated from Baylor University.