The new head of American Airlines' parent company is a close friend of the retiring CEO.
Former CEO Gerard Arpey brought in new CEO Tom Horton in 2006, several years after Horton left the airline for a job with AT&T Inc.
"I'm very saddened to see my great friend -- and, I think, a great leader -- retire from the company," Horton said in a press conference Tuesday. "Although he, I'm sure, will go off to do many great things."
Arpey, who had been CEO of AMR Corp. since 2003, stepped aside for a new job with an investment firm. He chose to retire, even though the company's board of directors wanted him to stay.
According to several reports, he did not agree with the decision to file bankruptcy.
Arpey, a reserved man who avoided the spotlight, tried almost everything to keep the company out of bankruptcy.
"Gerard was absolutely committed to the long-term success of this company," Horton said. "He poured his entire career into that objective, and that is my objective as well, so we're going to go out with the entire American team and try to create a company that is successful, profitable and strong for the long term."
NBC 5's Brian Curtis contributed to this report.
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