Doug Parker has announced he will step down as the CEO of American Airlines on March 31, 2022, making official what had been leaked months ago. HIs loyal lieutenant, Robert Isom, will take over as AA’s new Chief Executive Officer.
Doug Parker Will Step Down As American Airlines CEO In March 2022
The official announcement came in a video message discussing the succession plan at American Airlines:
Parker’s personal rise is nothing short of inspiring. Whatever your view of him today (and I do believe American Airlines has floundered in recent years), no one can take away his rise at America West, US Airways, and finally at American Airlines. Moving from the leader of a small Arizona airline on the verge of collapse (America West) to lead world’s largest airline is an amazing story.
Say what you will about his poor decisions concerning employee relations, route networks, and loyalty, but he has survived and led his airline through the pandemic, extracting massive amounts of cash from U.S. taxpayers. That takes some lobbying prowesses and Parker learned how to lobby very early in his career at America West.
We’ll look back on the mixed legacy of Doug Parker as his retirement draws closer. Parker will remain Chairman of the AA Board.
Will Robert Isom Simply Be Doug Parker 2.0?
Like Parker, Isom’s career includes America West, US Airways, and American Airlines. He also worked at Northwest Airlines, including an assignment in Tokyo.
I don’t count people out before they began. When United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby pivoted from American Airlines to United Airlines, many dismissed him as as nothing more than a bean counter. But Kirby has been a strong leader at United and led the company well during the pandemic, positioning it to emerge from the pandemic ready to grow and capture additional market share. He also traces his career back to America West, US Airways, and American Airlines, but made a conscious change and has benefited from it.
There is no doubt that Isom and Parker have been on the same page publicly. But could it be that he is simply being loyal?
It may be that we see more of the same at American Airlines or it could be that Isom is even worse. But I won’t dismiss him before he has even started. We’ll have to wait and see.
Doug Parker will officially step down from leading American Airlines in March 2022. He will remain a visible figure at American Airlines while serving as Chairman of the Board. Robert Isom, currently AA’s President, will take over as new leader.