The Virtues of Gerard Arpey
Back in May, you may recall, JP Morgan analyst Jamie Baker kinda gave it to American Airlines CEO Gerard Arpey during a first-quarter earnings conference call. Said Baker to Arpey, following a discussion of dwindling earnings and a vague "flight plan" for the future, "I guess you just don't sound all that fired up." Nevertheless, reminds The Street this morning in a glowing profile of Arpey, Baker still recommended American stock. Why? Because, deep down, Arpey -- like Captain Jeffrey T. Spaulding -- is a very moral man.
In an interview in his Dallas office, Arpey's commitment to principle came through even more plainly than on the calls. "This company stands for something, more than just any old company," he declared. "Gradually, it will emerge as a successful company that honored its commitments and its pension obligations and that was guided by principles of doing what's right.
"The path we have taken has created cost challenges for us," Arpey acknowledged. "But I believe there is something misguided about how we measure success, if success is bankruptcy, giving pension obligations to taxpayers and not paying back creditors. By that measure, we have failed."
Which is nice and all. But, remind me, when does Virgin America start flying out of DFW? Oh, right.