AMR CEO Horton's fate uncertain as merger with US Airways nears

With US Airways Group Inc and American Airlines parent AMR Corp working out the final details of a merger, the continuance of AMR chief executive Tom Horton has emerged as a thorny issue.

After rejecting an aggressive takeover push from smaller rival US Airways early in its bankruptcy, AMR is said to be jockeying for a high-level position for Horton in the merged airline, according to a Thomson Reuters report, which quoted several people familiar with the matter.

With US Airways CEO Doug Parker eyeing the roles of both chief executive and chairman of the new company, AMR has proposed that the roles be split to make Horton chairman of the board should Parker become CEO, the people said.

The report added, the AMR board had a high regard for Horton, who had spearheaded bankruptcy restructuring, the airline's unions and creditors though were wary of his troubled relationship with labour, as was US Airways, which itself was hardly a stranger to bankruptcy, according to the people familiar with the matter.

Concerns had also been voiced that splitting up the chairman and chief executive roles would lead to a strategic clash at the top at a time when the newly-merged airline needed to embark on a major transformation, according to the people.

Commentators say under Horton's watch American Airlines slipped into bankruptcy is the last impediment to a deal  with US Air, and the idea of sharing leadership should be rejected.