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In a surprise appointment, the $1.45 billion North Island Financial Credit Union of San Diego, one of California’s troubled CUs, announced Thursday it has hired veteran and retired CEO John Tippets, former head of American Airlines FCU in Dallas as its new CEO.

Tippets, who retired from the Texas CU in June 2008 after 17 years at its helm, succeeded Michael Maslak. Maslak retired from the CU in January after the CU posted a dismal 2008 with a $50 million loss and at March 31 had one of the nation’s lowest capital ratios at 2.16%. North Island has since climbed to 4.16%, but is still dealing with real estate losses from the California housing collapse.

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