American Airlines

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Photo Credit: Fabian Fernandez | Daily Texan Staff

Tom Horton, former president and CEO of American Airlines, spoke about his perspective on leadership Tuesday as part of the University’s VIP Distinguished Speaker Series.  

Horton was president, chairman and CEO of AMR Corporation until its merger with US Airways Group formed American Airlines Group, Inc. in December 2013.

After being elected president of AMR Corporation, then immediately voting with the board of directors to declare bankruptcy in one decisive 2011 phone call, Horton said it was his stubbornness and determination that allowed him to remain optimistic and eventually help turn the company around.

“I had sort of a dogged, maybe persistent, belief in that, and I think people eventually got behind me — that’s where we landed,” Horton said. “Stubbornness almost to the point of dumb optimism [allowed me to be successful].”

McCombs Undergraduate Dean David Platt, who interviewed Horton throughout the talk, said he would emphasize to students the importance of persistence. 

“Resilience is vastly underrated,” Pratt said. “If people could take something away from him it’s to know that people like him, at the highest levels of [a] company and who influence how everyone else thinks about it, are really so sincerely serious about integrity.”

Drawing upon Warren Buffet, William Shakespeare and George Strait quotes to give business advice to students, Horton emphasized hard work, integrity and humility. Horton said this commitment to ethics could be manifested by a strong belief in capitalism.

“I believe in the golden rule … as a principle property of business,” Horton said. “We need to be successful in producing a good product for our customers which … will produce security, jobs and hopefully growth in jobs … there’s almost nothing you can do better for your fellow man than to give him a job.” 

Charlie  Adkins, chair of the VIP Distinguished Speakers Series and business honors and accounting sophomore, said he has been continuously impressed by the affability of the speakers, especially Horton’s commitment to character and hard work.

“Behind being CEOs of a company, [VIP distinguished speakers] have also been really great people and I think that’s something that’s really important to look for in a leaders,” Adkins said. “It really hit home with how you should do negotiations and have business and just leadership in general.”

On the busiest travel day of the year, a passenger checks the departures board in a terminal at Denver International Airport, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

As thousands of students prepare to fly home for the holidays once again, a business deal occurring this month could have a major effect on America’s airline industry for years to come. Less than a week from now, American Airlines and U.S. Airways will merge, becoming the world’s largest airline and ending a months-long legal drama between the airlines and the U.S. government. The merger is a major shake-up to the industry, for sure, but it remains to be seen to what degree the government’s fears of monopolies will be realized.

American and U.S. Airways first agreed to merge in February, but their plans were put on hold in August after the U.S. Department of Justice and the attorneys general of Texas, Arizona, Tennessee, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia filed a civil antitrust lawsuit against them. The DOJ argued in a statement that “even a small increase in the price of airline tickets, checked bags or flight change fees” as a result of the decreased level of competition “would result in hundreds of millions of dollars of harm to American consumers.”

In October, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott withdrew from the lawsuit, possibly to avoid it being used against him by Democratic opponent Wendy Davis, who supports the merger, in the 2014 gubernatorial election. Only a month later, the DOJ settled with the two airlines, allowing the merger to go forward on the condition that the reorganized American Airlines Group give up some of its gate holdings, mainly at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., and LaGuardia Airport in New York City. 

On Dec. 9, the two airlines will sign the merger and officially combine.

Over the next few years, as the airline gradually consolidates its services, flyers should prepare for technical difficulties in the reservation systems, as well as the inescapable labor problems associated with the merger of two companies with more than 100,000 employees between them. For instance, the labor union representing U.S. Airways’ flight attendants and the union representing American Airlines’ flight attendants are still two completely separate entities, so the merger process will be far from over when the corporate executives put pen to paper next Monday.

The concerns over a potential monopoly, while valid, are confined mostly to the nonstop routes operated by only American and U.S. Airways — none of which fly to or from Austin. So any swift, direct impact on the price of your ticket home for Christmas appears unlikely.

After the San Antonio Spurs let Game 6 slip from their grasp Tuesday night, the Miami Heat tied up the series 3-3 heading into Game 7. The superstars dug deep and delivered, with the Miami Heat winning their second World Championship 95-88 for back-to-back years on their home floor of the American Airlines Center.

Everyone with an eye on basketball wondered if the aging Spurs would even be able to get off the bench after an intense, overtime game on the road in the Finals. Including the players themselves.

“I have no clue how we’re going to be re-energized,” commented an emotional Manu Ginobili Tuesday night during media availability. “I’m devastated.”

But ultimately, there had to be a winner Thursday night. In a game where both teams were clearly plagued by fatigue, evidenced by the low scoring first half (the Heat held a 46-44 advantage at halftime), the high number of turnovers (the Spurs had 14, the Heat had 16) and the low overall shooting percentages (the Spurs shot the ball 37.8%, Miami, 43.9%).

LeBron James finally worked his way out of his shooting slump and was the driving force for the Heat, finishing with 37 points on 12-of-23 shooting, 12 rebounds, four assists and two steals. James won MVP, becoming only the third player to win back-to-back Finals MVP recognitions, joining Michael Jordan and Bill Russell.

Dwyane Wade had a big night with 23 points on 11-of-21 shooting, 10 rebounds, one assist and two blocks. The slump also finally lifted for Shane Battier, who provided a big push for the Heat with Ray Allen finally having gone cold from three. All 18 of Battier’s points came from beyond the arc, on 6-of-8 shooting in addition to pulling down four rebounds. Mario Chalmers ended the night with 14 points on 6-of-15 shooting, with two assists and two steals. Chris Andersen chipped in three points and four rebounds.

After going for 30 points in Game 6 only two nights before, Tim Duncan was brilliant again with 24 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and four steals, though he struggled somewhat shooting the ball (8-of-18) and missed arguably one of the biggest shots of his career; a put-back dunk that would’ve tied the game at the end of the fourth quarter.

Kawhi Leonard was productive in 45 minutes with 19 points and 16 rebounds. Manu Ginobili had an aggressive game, finishing with 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including 2-of-5 from three point range, three rebounds and five assists. Tony Parker struggled again (likely still hampered by an injured hamstring), finishing with just 10 points, four assists and three steals.

Danny Green and Gary Neal were, again, chilly from beyond the arc, combining for 10 points on 3-of-19 shooting, nine rebounds and two steals. Boris Diaw helped unexpectedly by chipping in five points, three assists and one rebound.

Only five Miami players scored all 95 points in Game 7 (James, Wade, Chalmers, Battier and Anderson). Center Chris Bosh got away with going scoreless for the entirety of this contest, as did Ray Allen and Mike Miller.

The Heat made six more three pointers than the Spurs, though San Antonio got to the charity stripe almost twice as many times as Miami (20 times to the Heat’s 11) and had 12 steals to Miami’s eight.

Former Longhorn basketball player Myck Kabongo was at the game. Kabongo will participate in the NBA Draft on June 27.