I know better than to cast stones at my esteemed colleagues, but I just had to chuckle at the headlines yesterday about the “future” retirement of American Airlines CEO Doug Parker. In other breaking news, the sun set in the west. The real story is how long he has hung on.
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker Holds On To Reins Of Power
A job listing for Chief Human Resources Officers by a headhunting firm noted the officer would eventually report to a new AA CEO. It added:
The airline is in the midst of a multi-year strategic succession planning process that is designed to prepare an internal executive for the chief executive officer role.
This isn’t news folks. Of course he is going to retire! In fact, the real news is how long he has held on. Who would have thought the man facing liquidation at America West would somehow go on to lead US Airways and later American Airlines?
Parker, for all his faults, has had an impressive career and can be proud of all he has accomplished as Chairman and CEO of what eventually became world’s largest airline. The joke is that he hasn’t driven one airline in the ground but three, but in reality he has had a mix of success and failure, just like any great leader.
So when Elise Eberwein, American’s Executive Vice President, took to Twitter to offer a nauseously long explanation for what occurred, I think I could have saved her a lot of keystrokes by borrowing a line from Mark Twain:
“The reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated.”
Parker will stay on for years according to Eberwein.
And while Nostradamus Parker predicted that American Airlines would never see loss again (how’s that for humble pie?) he’s like the cat with nine lives. My guess is that he will stick around as long as he darn well pleases, which might be for six more months, but it likely for 2-3 years until American Airlines can get back on its feet. It’s always nice to go out on top…just ask Jeff Smisek. (I kid)
Congratulations to Doug Parker for a long and distinguished career. You’re darn right American Airlines is thinking about a succession plan. I’ve got news for you: so is Delta, United, and every company that has even a pinch of discernment.
The real news is not that Parker is going, but that he has hung on for so long. So I’m not offering any congratulations to Robert Isom just yet…
image: American Airlines