Maya Leibman Stepping Down As American Airlines CIO

When American Airlines entered bankruptcy a decade ago, Maya Leibman moved from leading the AAdvantage program to become Chief Information Officer. She stayed on after US Airways management took over. And she’s been one of the few legacy American Airlines top executives at the company.

She was just highlighted as part of American’s new leadership under CEO Robert Isom, but a decade into her role she’s stepping down as Executive Vice President and CIO, though she will remain in the role until a replacement is found and remain with American after that.

That’s a big loss to the airline, but the airline announced she’s moving across the Pond.

On May 27, 2022, American Airlines Group Inc. (“AAG”) and American Airlines, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of AAG (“AAI” and, together with AAG, the “Company”), announced that Maya Leibman, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer, has decided to relocate to the United Kingdom and will transition from her current role effective as of the date the Company appoints her successor. Ms. Leibman will continue in an advisory role with the Company following her successor’s appointment.

Under Maya’s leadership American’s technology has been stable and it’s generally worked. In some ways the airline’s customer-facing technology is behind competitors at Delta and United. You can’t even confirm upgrades on their website. Yet in merging US Airways and American, they completed what has to be the largest data migration in U.S. corporate history.

If there’s one area that American appears to excel it’s managing and executing on large IT projects and not releasing them into the world until they’re going to work. American Airlines clearly has a capability in managing and migrating data. Goodness knows this was a disaster in some other airline mergers, destroying hundreds of millions of dollars in value if not more.

Here’s Maya back when she was President of AAdvantage:

And here’s a talk Maya Leibman gave on her role in tech as fostering connections between people.

With her accomplishments at American, she could write her ticket almost anywhere in corporate America. She’s choosing to stay on at the airline in a reduced role. And literally everyone I’ve ever heard from about Maya has nothing but superlatives to offer.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This is corporate-speak for she got a new job across the pond. The reduced role is so they don’t have to announce when she finally leaves American’s employment. At that level, there is usually a 3-6 month contract before leaving, and the new person, if not a promotion, likely can’t leave their position for 3-6 months. It’s also possible that American decided to move in a different direction, leading to her finding a new job. Can I guarantee that this is what happened, no, but I’ve seen it too many times to think otherwise. Things like this happen when a new CEO comes on, they have their favorites or people they don’t want.

  2. Dear Mr. Leff,

    At long last you have posted an article that is actually worth reading. Can you do me a favor and delete your past posts about strippers dangling their panties above the seats? Those types of junk posts are beneath the dignity of this blog.

    Now it does seem that Leibman got results which is a hell of a lot more than one can say about a bunch of other execs. Leibman probably has no DUIs, either, and next you’re going to tell me, she’s never posed next to Black passengers on a rival airline while holding a book called White Fragility.

    Underlings in corporate America know that externally well received leaders are not necessarily internally well received — toxic work cultures are not always visible to customers. Let’s hope that Leibman did not foster a toxic work culture. We have no evidence that she did, other than the trope in corporate America that sociopathic tendencies are often used to succeed.

    — Yin Jing, your longtime reader.

  3. @John H – that may be the ‘base case’ but (having talked to Maya) I’m confident that’s not what’s going on

  4. She ran a fair program at the time unlike today’s raping of AA program members delta style

  5. I worked for May Leibman for 18 years. I would fall on the sword for her. I know hundreds that would join me.

  6. I’m not that impressed with AA’s information system. They inactivated my old AAdvantage account due to inactivity and won’t give me credit for the 200K “lifetime flight miles” from my old account.

  7. “You can’t even confirmed upgrades on their website.”

    No I’m … doesn’t!

  8. The bottom line is what did she do for the traveling public, the consumers that pay the bill? According to your blog posts things has gone from bad to worse at AA!!!

  9. What an incredible snow job. On the operating side, virtually every “system” that has evolved under her leadership is a disaster. Passenger processing: crew bidding and pay are an absolute trainwreck as an example. She inherited top shelf SABRE systems that were the backbone of legacy AA and bilged them out in favor of the antiquated and useless USAir computer systems.

  10. Most unethical CIO I ever worked under. Constantly said she wasn’t impressed with Delta products while ours were worse. Quid pro was big with the vendors. And constantly had to watch presentations with her kid. Deeply prejudiced against US Airways employees. Over Thanksgiving, during the finalized merger, we all got a memo showing that she promoted all AA people a grade so that what used to be a level playing field by title suddenly had AA personnel at a lower level. So when the merger went through 10 days later we were immediately in a demoted position. She stacked the deck to get the most for her people. A shame Doug Parker didn’t do the same for the loyal employees he had for 20 plus years. Oh and the food drive contests to raise money for food banks also was dishonest. Literally our new boss bragged on how she just called the vendors and told them to donate—which of course they obliged because they knew those donations would be paid back later in spades. She actually scolded employees for being worried about Covid and said she was taking her kid on vacation to Virginia. Not less than 2 weeks later, we were in lockdowns and not less than a month later, forcibly retired. Oh and if you didn’t take the first retirement package then you lost an extra third of your pay for not being smart enough to know you would be laid off, even when your managers insisted you wouldn’t be. Never an apology to anyone. Watch her TED talk about people working in the office and making fun of people afraid to get sick. Literally made a joke of it. Well the joke was on us. And guess who got bailed out free and clear from the government. Not my co-workers. The reason flights are cancelled now is because Maya literally forced us all out. It stung. But we all knew from Day 1 that she had a different set of rules for legacy AA. Personally, I hope Robert Isom saw through her phony apology emails when something in IT went wrong. Delta and United were so much more innovative than AA. I wish her an equal experience in her new position and can only hope that she gets a small taste of the hostile environment we had to work in.

  11. AA has by far the worse IT of the US3 airlines, and the gap with them has only increased under this CIO.

    This article is completely misplaced. And getting SABRE to merge an airline already on SABRE with another airline also on SABRE is not much of an achievement. Whoopi do!

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