American Airlines Trustee Looks At $20 Million Payout To Outgoing CEO, Says There’s Some Explaining To Do

Of course he's smiling. He's about to make $19.9 million, if the trustee approves it.

Of course he’s smiling. He’s about to make $19.9 million, if the trustee approves it.

Though so much of the news about American Airlines has been about its impending nuptials to more financially stable suitor US Airways, let’s not forget that the airline is still clawing its way out of bankruptcy protection. Which is why the trustee put in charge of this process thinks someone should have to explain why outgoing the American CEO is being rewarded to the tune of $19.9 million.

AA CEO Tom Horton — not to be confused with late hockey player/donut mogul Tim Horton — won’t even be exiting the company when it moves all its boxes into US Airways’ garage. Horton is slated to stay on a chairman of the board while US Airways CEO Doug Parker runs the united company that you can’t call “united” because that name is already taken.

Regardless, Horton, who was bumped up from president to CEO of the airline when it declared bankruptcy in Nov. 2011, will be rewarded for his time on the job with a sizable severance package. But the L.A. Times reports that the trustee put in charge of AA’s bankruptcy has denied the airline’s request for the payout, pending a proper explanation for why Horton deserves such a shiny, gold-colored parachute, pointing out that, under bankruptcy law, severance packages can not be handed out “without factual and circumstantial justification.”

Speaking of American, it’s one of the 32 businesses that made the cut in this year’s Worst Company In America tournament. AA will be going up against bottom-dollar carrier Spirit Airlines in the first round.