American Airlines CEO Tom Horton, US Airways CEO Doug Parker and Los Conquistadores del Cielo

There’s an AP story today in which American Airlines CEO Tom Horton argues that he proposed a merger to US Airways CEO Doug Parker, not the other way around (as Parker has portrayed the matter publicly).

Horton says that it’s actually US Airways that’s desperate to combine, not American (which is still working its way through bankruptcy).

The article reveals that the merger talk first came up during a secret meeting of airline executives:

In September, when Horton was still just American’s president. Horton wouldn’t say where they met but two people familiar with the situation said it was at the A Bar A Ranch, a 100,000-acre retreat in southern Wyoming during an exclusive gathering of top airline executives informally known as “conquistadores del cielo,” or the conquerors of the skies. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because the executive meeting is supposed to be a secret. The discussion between Horton and Parker occurred during a barbeque lunch along the banks of the North Platte River.

“I said to Doug, standing by the river, I think there could be the potential for value creation in a combination,” Horton recalled. “I made that pitch. We nodded heads to one another.”

“Potential for value creation.” It’s good to know that, even when standing in gorgeous natural surroundings, CEOs like Horton and Parer remain committed to speaking corporatese.