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Doug Parker Might Be Out, but Scott Kirby Won’t Replace Him

Doug Parker Might Be Out, but Scott Kirby Won’t Replace Him
Jeff Edwards

A management shakeup at American Airlines via the ouster of CEO Doug Parker is appearing more likely by the minute, but United Airlines President Scott Kirby made recent comments designed to pour cold water on any notion he might be preparing to return to his former employer. 

Months before Scott Kirby left his position as President of American Airlines, he was viewed as the heir-apparent to current CEO Doug Parker. When Kirby was asked to step down, in an unexpected turn of events, newly installed United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz quickly offered Kirby the same position at the competing carrier. Now that Doug Parker’s own job appears to be in jeopardy, rumors have started to swell indicating that Kirby is on the shortlist to replace his former boss at American Airlines.

This week, however, during a question and answer session hosted by Plane Business Banter publisher Holly Hegeman, Kirby went out of his way to dispel any rumors he might be in line for the job at American Airlines. The interview during this year’s annual Airline Reporting Corporation (ARC) conference held in Virginia left little room for speculation about Kirby’s plans for the future.

“I made a commitment to Oscar,” Kirby said in comments reported by Skift.  “Oscar was big enough to take a chance on me to bring me to United, and Oscar and United Airlines is the place where I’m going to end my career.”

Although Kirby seems to have closed the door on the idea of his making a triumphant return to the helm at American Airlines, it is perhaps notable in his denial that there was no mention made of the fact that the position being discussed is currently occupied. While addressing speculation that he might be a candidate for Doug Parker’s job, neither Kirby nor Hegeman reportedly gave much of any indication that Parker’s imminent departure is anything other than a foregone conclusion.

If the rumors of the demise of Doug Parker’s career are accurate and if Scott Kirby has truly removed his hat from the ring, then there is still some hope that another well-thought-of former American Airlines executive could be coaxed to return to the carrier. A tongue-in-cheek social media campaign to bring back retired AA CEO Bob Crandall, known as “” may have just received a huge bump from Kirby’s recent declaration. The 83-year-old former CEO, who has been retired for more than two decades, however, still remains something of a dark horse candidate to replace the current CEO (who hasn’t yet left the building).


[Image Source: United Airlines]

View Comments (14)


  1. topman

    October 7, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    Please AA – make him an offer he can’t refuse.

  2. diver858

    October 7, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    Not gonna happen – Crandall wants NOTHING to do with AA labor.

  3. naumank

    October 7, 2019 at 9:35 pm

    I second @topman. It would be beneficial to all UA fliers if Kirby is gone. Kirby joins Smisek as one of the worst top airline executives. I hope he doesn’t become the CEO of UA.

  4. fotographer

    October 8, 2019 at 2:06 am

    leave already Mr. Parka… do us the paying passenger a big favor.

  5. GetSetJetSet

    October 8, 2019 at 4:10 pm

    Get Doug out of town and turn AA around.

  6. 2stepbay

    October 9, 2019 at 4:40 am

    Please Scott…for the good of United, return to AA!

  7. dedehans

    October 9, 2019 at 4:57 am

    Bring back Bob I agree but think Bob is quite happy with life and retirement in FL….

  8. petrogradian

    October 9, 2019 at 5:52 am

    “…and United Airlines is the place where I’m going to end my career.”

    If that’s his aspiration, that should be very frightening for all of us who fly UA. That reads almost like a suicide note.

  9. ckfred

    October 9, 2019 at 6:50 am

    The irony is that AA’s unions all threw their support behind Parker and the US merger with AA.

    Parker said during town halls with the unions that US’s route structure didn’t generate the revenue needed to offer a premium product in F, J, and Y. AA’s route structure did.

    Further, Parker got his start in the airline industry at AA, when Bob Crandall was running what was a superior and innovative carrier.

    I know United frequent flyers who love Scott Kirby and those who think things really haven’t improved.

    But, I wonder how is it that he signs employment agreements that don’t preclude him from from working for another large carrier. He admitted that his knowledge of AA was used to make decisions at UA. You would think UA would do everything possible to keep Kirby from going to Dallas.

  10. ayton

    October 9, 2019 at 7:01 am

    Ready since day 1 to see Doug Parker leave.
    Maybe Gerard Arpey?

  11. AJNEDC

    October 9, 2019 at 7:55 am

    I just flew American in business class from JFK to Madrid. Hands down, this is the worse business class that I have ever flown. Whoever takes the helm need to do something about their product offering.

  12. POatParker

    October 9, 2019 at 8:11 am

    Party in the streets!!!!! Yay, Yay, Yay! Dump Parker now. Worst non customer centric CEO ever, in the airline industry!!! Throw my hat in the ring! I would do a hell of a lot better job than Parker!! Such a looser! Or better yet, bring back Arpe!

  13. Prof_Dr_G

    October 9, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    Give him a middle seat (not adjacent to his children) as a golden parachute. But, be sure to charge him for it!

  14. wcc50

    October 9, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    OMG I hope so. Doug Parker has ruined American. Neither American high flyers nor US Air high flyers like what has happened. Service and status recognition is down, prices up, perks and services do.
    I used to be a 1K with United and switched to American about 2005. What a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, Doug Parker has 1) irritated american personnel, 2) irritated high status flyers ( I pity those Platinum who never get an upgrade) 3) raised prices
    This merger should have never happened.

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