Ex-American Airlines boss joins Emerald Creek

Gerard Arpey, the former chairman and chief executive officer of AMR Corporation, the stricken parent company of American Airlines, has joined a Houston-based private equity real estate firm.

Emerald Creek Group, a fledgling Houston-based private equity firm focussed on real estate, has recruited Gerard Arpey, the former chairman and chief executive officer of stricken AMR Corporation, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier today.

Arpey, who led AMR for eight years until his retirement this month, will lead Emerald Creek along with the firm’s founder Larry Kellner, who himself carved out a career in the airline industry having served as chief executive officer at Continental Airlines.

The announcement of his joining Emerald Creek came on the same day as AMR Corporation, which owns American Airlines, filed for bankruptcy protection while it struggles under a debt mountain built up amid rising fuel prices and labour disputes. 

Emerald Creek describes itself as a boutique private equity firm focussed on financing real estate deals in Texas and California on a deal-by-deal basis. It specialises in suburban office, industrial and land deals. 

Kellner told PERE that the firm primarily sought opportunistic deals, but declined to disclose whether it would be raising any opportunistic funds in the near future. 

In a statement, Kellner said: “I have known Gerard for many years, and watched with admiration as he led American Airlines through the most challenging decade in the history of the airline industry.”

“I respect and admire Larry Kellner enormously,” said Arpey.  “Over the years, he and I worked closely together on a number of airline industry initiatives through the Air Transport Association and other forums. We are very much aligned when it comes to our values and the way we approach life and business.”