Parker, who took over as the airline’s CEO in 2013, will retire in March and remain chairman of the board. He’ll be succeeded by American Airlines President Robert Isom.
“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 in a statement.
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Parker previously ran American West, becoming the airline’s CEO just 10 days before the Sept. 11 attacks that devastated the airline industry. He led its merger with U.S. Airways, then later oversaw U.S. Airways’ merger with American.
“It has been the privilege of my life to serve for 20 years as an airline CEO,” Parker said. “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.”
Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, praised Parker on Tuesday for his insistence that Congress provide federal aid to the airline industry amid the pandemic that grounded flights.
“No other CEO worked as hard, spent as much time with Congress or the administration, or felt the urgency of keeping people connected to our jobs – not once, but three times,” Nelson said in a statement. “The industry is standing today and able to lift us out of the biggest crisis in aviation history. It was an honor to work with Doug on this seminal achievement.”
Parker’s departure is the second major shakeup in the airline industry to be announced this year. Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly will step down in February. He’ll be replaced by Southwest executive Bob Jordan.