Doug Parker hardly seems the kind of guy who would end up running buttoned-down American Airlines. He’s an open-collar CEO, casual and approachable, a persona in sharp contrast to an industry and airline known for an intense cut-throat culture.
Still, the youthful 52-year-old Parker can play winning corporate poker with the best. This year, he pulled off the improbable aviation royal flush — a merger of his scrappy US Airways with American Airlines in a deal creating the world’s largest airline and sliding him into the captain’s seat.
It’s an eye-popping achievement described in superlatives — from the last great airline merger to the “greatest corporate heist” — recognition that this deal defied long odds.
It also is an accomplishment worthy of putting Parker on the list of finalists for 2013 Dallas Morning News Texan of the Year.
Parker’s challenge now is obvious — to manage the behemoth he has assembled. Already a North Texas resident, he has replaced uncertainty at American with optimism of a new beginning. And there’s a new tone: Executives won’t have reserved parking any more; it’ll be first-come, first-served at company headquarters. He also promises transparency of executive compensation, the lack of which had been a burr under the saddle of American’s employee groups.
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