Parker wanted to act fast because he felt that American would try to exit bankruptcy quickly, the sources said. But after US Airways' hostile bid for Delta Air Lines had failed in early 2007, the last thing Parker wanted was to appear overly aggressive.
In the face of AMR CEO Tom Horton's initial resistance, the US Airways team spent several months wooing American's creditors and labor unions, hoping to persuade them to put pressure on management to come to the table.
In April last year, American's three largest unions voiced support for a US Airways takeover. And in May, AMR's official unsecured creditors committee convinced Horton to explore a merger as an alternative to an independent restructuring plan.
Parker "recognized who effectively would be the arbiters of this deal and he put together a campaign to bring them over to his side," said Robert Mann, an airline consultant in Port Washington, New York.
A person familiar with the discussions said Parker and US Airways President Scott Kirby decided early in the process that they would only proceed if they had the support of American employees. "That was a lesson learned from Delta. If we don't have them, it won't happen. And they led the way," the person said.