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Doug Parker, American Airlines' CEO the past 20 years, announced Tuesday that he is stepping down from that position March 31.

Parker, who will maintain his role as board chairman, will be succeeded by company President Robert Isom.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier employs about 5,200 people in Tulsa, which houses the airline's largest maintenance base.

Doug Parker

Parker

"This transition is the result of a thoughtful and well-planned multi-year process overseen by our board, dating back to Robert’s elevation to president in 2016," Parker wrote in a memo to employees. "In fact, it likely would have happened sooner, but the global pandemic — and the devastating impact it had on our industry — delayed those plans. While we still have work to do, the recovery from the pandemic is under way and now is the right time to make the transition."

Parker crafted a merger between U.S. Airways and a bankrupt American Airlines, creating the globe's largest airline in the world when American emerged from chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2013.

Isom previously served as executive vice president and chief operating officer at American after holding the same position at US Airways. Before going to U.S. Airways, he had senior executive operations, finance and commercial roles at GMAC, Northwest Airlines and America West Airlines.

"Being CEO of American Airlines is the best job in all of commercial aviation, and Robert will fill the role exceptionally well," Parker wrote. "I’ve worked closely with Robert for two decades, and we have known each other even longer. He is an excellent team builder who has worked to bring people together throughout his career.

"With his deep understanding of our operations and ability to lead a complex service organization, Robert played a key part in helping us achieve the world’s largest airline integration and safely serve more than 200 million passengers annually prior to the pandemic. He has guided our team through the pandemic and ongoing recovery, ensuring our team members are respected and supported in the critical work you have done to keep our economy moving."

American in October reported earnings of $169 million, its strongest three-month period during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

For the same period a year ago, American reported a net loss of $2.4 billion.

"It has been the privilege of my life to work with and for this amazing group of aviation professionals," Parker wrote. "I love American Airlines, but I particularly love the people of American. I will never forget your incredible support throughout the years and know you will give Robert the same support you have given me. Your hard work and dedication will continue to drive American’s success."


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This article originally ran on tulsaworld.com.

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