Likely AMR-US Airways merger clarifies American's management roles

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With a merger announcement with US Airways Group Inc. likely to come as soon as this week, the roles of top management at American Airlines may be becoming clearer.

Two people close to the situation told the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday that Tom Horton, chairman and chief executive of American and parent AMR Corp., apparently will be the non-executive chairman of American after a merger.

They said US Airways chairman and CEO Doug Parker would be American's CEO, a position that would hold the power at the airline post-merger.

Representatives of American and US Airways declined to comment on the reports of the management structure.

A third person close to the situation was unaware if such a decision had been made, describing the situation as remaining "fluid." That person's understanding was that the decision on top management was yet to be made.

Another person familiar with the discussions said he had been told that Horton would have the position of "chairman," without a "non-executive" qualifier. But he also said that the final decisions are still to be made.

The AMR board has not yet signed off on a merger, even though managers at both airlines have been preparing for weeks for that likelihood. The AMR board is tentatively scheduled to vote on a merger proposal early next week, with any announcement to follow later in the week.

The Wall Street Journal reported on its website Wednesday that the merger discussions are now at an advanced stage. Under the deal's current contours, American creditors would own roughly 72 percent of the airline and US Airways shareholders about 28 percent, the newspaper said, crediting people close to the discussions.

US Airways officials have said that if a merger is approved the new company would retain the American Airlines name and keep its headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. The combination of American and US Airways would create the biggest U.S. airline in terms of traffic, surpassing United Airlines.