What a year it’s been for American Airlines. The Fort Worth-based carrier started the year in Chapter 11 bankruptcy and facing questions of whether it should merge or stay independent. It ended the year completing a $17.7 billion merger with Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airwaysemerging from bankruptcy and becoming the world’s largest airline—all on the same day, Dec. 9. The new American boasts 6,700 daily flights to 330 destinations in 50 countries and 100,000 employees. On Dec. 9, the airline celebrated the milestone by having Doug Parker, CEO of the new American Airlines, remotely ring the bell on the Nasdaq stock exchange, where the new American Airlines Group stock sells under the AAL ticker symbol.

“I couldn’t be more excited about the promise of our combined airline. I look forward to working with the best team in the industry as we take off as the new American,” said Parker, the former CEO of US Airways. He made the speech as he stood in American’s headquarters with hundreds of employees and executives watching.

“Our goal here is to go and restore American Airlines to its position as the greatest airline in the world,” Parker said.

“Restore, of course means that American has a tremendous legacy and knows what it feels like to be the best and that’s a tremendous asset. The new American is about getting that feeling back and I promise you we intend to do whatever it takes to get us there.”

But the approach was anything but smooth. Early on, Tom Horton, CEO of American’s former parent company, AMR Corp., warned that a merger would only delay the emergence from bankruptcy and he preferred to move forward as an independent company.

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