3 Senior Executives Leaving American Airlines

DAVID KOENIG | AP Airlines Writer

DALLAS (AP) – The exodus of top leaders at American Airlines is growing, a week after parent AMR Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection.

American Airlines said Tuesday that three senior executives will leave the company on Dec. 31.

The airline's top operations officer and the vice president for employee relations will retire, and the chief information officer will resign.

All three will be replaced from within the company.

CEO Gerard Arpey retired last week as AMR filed for bankruptcy protection, a move that Arpey had resisted for several years.

AMR also named Treasurer Beverly Goulet as chief restructuring officer, responsible for coordinating the company's reorganization moves.

The new CEO, Thomas Horton, said that by replacing three top officials with insiders, the latest shuffling at the top would "ensure continuity in each role, while enabling us to broaden our team's experience and capabilities" as the company goes through restructuring.

The changes:

– Executive Vice President of Operations Robert W. Reding will retire and be replaced by James B. Ream, who will hold the title of senior vice president. He will oversee the airline's flight operations and planning and continue his current job of running maintenance functions.

– Vice President of Employee Relations Mark L. Burdette will also retire and be replaced by Denise Lynn, the company's vice president of flight service. Burdette oversaw negotiations with American's three unions, and it was the breakdown of talks with pilots that immediately preceded AMR's decision to file for bankruptcy.

– Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Monte Ford will resign effective Dec. 31 and be replaced by Maya Leibman, the president of American's AAdvantage frequent-flier program.

Ray Neidl, an analyst with Maxim Group LLC, said that Horton wanted to put his own stamp on the company as the new CEO and clearly felt comfortable with the insiders that he promoted.

"I expect him to bring in some firepower from the outside" in finance and revenue-management jobs, Neidl said.

Analyst Helane Becker of Dahlman Rose & Co. said AMR was streamlining management to become leaner.

AMR listed debt of $29.6 billion and assets of $24.7 billion when it filed for Chapter 11 protection in federal court in New York. AMR hopes to do what rivals United, Delta and US Airways did in the past decade – cut labor and aircraft costs in bankruptcy to emerge as a lower-cost company.

On Monday American's three labor unions, three banks, Boeing Co., Hewlett-Packard Co. and the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. won seats on the committee that will represent unsecured creditors during the bankruptcy process.

AMR was the only major U.S. airline company to lose money last year, and analysts expect another loss this year. It has lost more than $11 billion since 2001.

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