His team eventually was able to shift another 2% ownership away from US Airways shareholders, ensuring that American's pre-bankruptcy shareholders would see some money. The new airline would be valued at $11 billion.
The only sticking point was who would lead it.
Parker badly wanted to be the one in charge. Horton, who had spent a year fixing a broken American, believed he should be able to finish what he started.
A small group of advisers met with Horton and appealed to his principles. The airline needed a fresh start. Horton agreed and prepared to hand over the reins to Parker, his friend and rival for three decades.
Horton put his principles first and did what was right for American, said Beverly Goulet, American's treasurer and chief restructuring officer.
"He's put his heart and soul into this for most of his career," she said. "All things being equal, he might prefer to be the guy sitting in the CEO chair."
Scott Mayerowitz can be reached at http://twitter.com/GlobeTrotScott.