American Airlines Isn’t Going To Bring Back Bob

American Airlines Isn’t Going To Bring Back Bob.

You know the head of a big U.S. company is in trouble when the three parties he has to keep happy – investors, employees and customers – are all so upset with him that some of them start calling publicly for the return of a storied predecessor.

Welcome to Doug Parker’s world at American Airlines, where the calls for the return of the carrier’s historical champion have begun.

To U.S. airline industry retirees, and to an ever-shrinking group of very senior airline employees, that old champion is the most feared man they ever worked for, or competed against. He was, if you listen to all the stories, ruthless, cutthroat, vicious and, most importantly, a winner. His admirers called him Darth Vader. To his enemies he was “Fang,” or worse. Heck, he even liked being called such names.

But now, 21 years after he retired as, arguably, the most impactful leader in airline industry history, some folks at American Airlines, perhaps along with some frustrated investors and fed-up travelers, are calling for American Airlines to “Bring Back Bob.” Indeed, they’ve launched a website by that name – BringBobBack.org – to promote the recall of legendary, 83-year-old Robert L. “Bob” Crandall out of retirement to replace Parker, American’s current CEO.

Despite his age and lifetime of chain smoking, Crandall is in seemingly good health. And his mind certainly is as sharp, incisive and aggressive as it ever was during his two-decade rampage atop the airline industry. So Crandall almost certainly could return to run American Airlines once again, if he were of a mind to do so. But with a similar degree of near-certainty, it is clear that he won’t be doing that.

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