The Deal: US Airways Slips on Merger Executive Team

NEW YORK ( TheDeal) --- US Airways Group ( LCC)fell on Monday after the company and its merger partner AMR Corp. named a combined management team heavy with veterans of the smaller airline.

AMR, parent of American Airlines Inc., and US Airways said that post-deal US Airways president Scott Kirby and chief financial officer Derek Kerr would remain in their roles, reporting to current US Airways chief executive Doug Parker. Including Parker, six of the nine execs named to the combined management team are US Airways employees.

AMR in February agreed to exit Chapter 11 protection via a merger with Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways, with the combination slated to keep the American Airlines name and that company's Fort Worth headquarters. But US Airways has long been expected to be in the driver's seat post-deal, with AMR chief executive Tom Horton scheduled to become nonexecutive chairman and leave the day-to-day operations to Parker.

The AMR holdovers include Beverly Goulet, who will serve as chief integration officer, along with technology chief Maya Leibman and government affairs executive William Ris. The companies also said Monday that Dan Garton, who is CEO of AMR's American Eagle Airlines Inc. small jet unit, would be stepping down before year's end.

The companies also named their post-deal 12-member board, which includes four US Airways directors, three AMR directors and five candidates picked by AMR creditors. The board includes Kraft Foods Group Inc. chairman John T. Cahill as lead independent director, as well as Blackstone Group LP adviser and one-time Boeing Co. executive James F. Albaugh and TPG Capital partner Richard P. Schifter as members.

The announcement caps an impressive run by the US Airways management team, whose core initially worked together at America West Holdings Corp. before orchestrating that company's 2005 merger with US Airways. Parker and the US Airways team in the years since that deal have been vocal advocates of consolidation, and began lobbying AMR employees and creditors about the benefits of a deal soon after the company's November 2011 bankruptcy filing.

Parker in a statement called the deal "another important step forward in creating the new American Airlines," saying "we are combining the strengths of legacy American and US Airways and creating a collaborative industry-leading leadership team."

The lineup keeps Kirby in line as the heir apparent to Parker. Kirby started with America West in 1995, working up the ranks from scheduling to executive vice president for sales and marketing to president of the company in 2006.

Sources have long said that the 45-year-old U.S. Air Force Academy grad was a likely replacement for Parker at US Airways, and it appears he remains on course to eventually run what will become the world's largest airline.

Written by Lou Whiteman in New York