"With characteristic selflessness, he decided it was time for a new leader to take the company forward," Horton continued.
Arpey, meanwhile, said in a statement that "the process launched today will no doubt require far-ranging and sometimes difficult change, but it represents an opportunity to rebuild American in a way that assures its ability to compete in a changed world.
"I appreciate the board's confidence in me, but I also believe that executing on this plan requires a new leader for a new time," Arpey said.
In a 2010 interview with
, Arpey's commitment to principle and aversion to bankruptcy were clear.
"This company stands for something, more than just any old company," he declared. "Gradually, it will emerge as a successful company that honored its commitments and its pension obligations and that was guided by principles of doing what's right.
"The path we have taken has created cost challenges for us," Arpey acknowledged. "But I believe there is something misguided about how we measure success, if success is bankruptcy, giving pension obligations to taxpayers and not paying back creditors. By that measure, we have failed."
-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.
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