Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly found himself under intense pressure earlier this month after the company announced its plans to cut some of its flights, resulting in some employees losing their jobs.
Southwest Airlines has appointed a new CEO to replace Gary Kelly, who will step down in February, according to a statement from the company. Kelly joined Southwest Airlines in 1998, and has served as CEO since 2011.
Gary Kelly was the CEO of Southwest Airlines from 1998 to 2018. He was responsible for the creation of the Rapid Rewards program and a long list of other innovations at Southwest, including its role in the birth of the ultra-low-cost carrier. Yes, he is a bit outspoken and outspoken he was, but his tenure at Southwest Airlines has been a boon for travelers.
Southwest Airlines announced this morning that its president and CEO, Gary Kelly, will step down next year after 17 years at the helm.
Kelly, who was honored by the airline and respected in the industry, will be joined in office Jan. 1. February 2022 by Robert Jordan, Executive Vice President of Corporate Services. At that time, Jordan will also join Southwest’s board of directors.
Mr. Kelly, 66, will serve as Executive Chairman until at least 2026 at the discretion of the Board.
On behalf of the board of directors of Southwest Airlines, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Bob Jordan as CEO, Kelly said in a statement. Bob and I have worked side by side for over 30 years. He is a talented and experienced leader and is well prepared for this important role. Working closely with President Tom Nealon and COO Mike Van of Venom, we will begin to develop transition plans in the coming weeks and months. These three great leaders are a strong team to move us forward.
I feel humbled, honored and delighted to have been asked to be the next CEO, Mr. Jordan said. The heart of Southwest is our people; they make the difference for our customers and I look forward to serving them. We have a great team of leaders, many of whom have been fortunate enough to work with me for decades. I look forward to working with Gary, Mike and Tom on the transition and preparing Southwest for the next 50 years of giving our customers the freedom to fly.
Kelly has been CEO since 2004 and has led Southwest through some of the most turbulent times in the airline industry. Mr. Kelly has 35 years of experience at Southwest. He began his career as a Controller, then became CFO and Vice President of Finance, then Executive Vice President and CFO before being named CEO and Vice Chairman in July 2004.
In 2008, he assumed the position of CEO and President of the company. In January 2017, Kelly stepped down as president and appointed former Southwest board member and executive Tom Nealon as chairman. Prior to joining Southwest Airlines in 1986, Kelly worked as a financial controller for Arthur Young & Company in Dallas and as a controller for Systems Center, Inc.
Kelly has often said that his greatest source of pride is that Southwest Airlines has not had a single layoff or downsizing in its 50-year history, and that the airline has managed to avoid them even in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic over the past 16 months.
Kelly was a stable and guiding force, both for Southwest in particular and for the airline industry. He led the airline’s transformation through a number of key initiatives, including the acquisition of AirTran Airways, the repeal of the Wright Amendment, the opening of international destinations for the first time in Southwest’s history, the installation of a new reservation system, the launch of a new frequent flyer program, the introduction of the new Heart brand and corporate identity, the launch of long-awaited service to Hawaii, and the introduction of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 to the airline’s fleet.
The airline has a strong management team, and the board has always taken its role in overseeing managerial succession seriously, said William Cunningham, senior director of Southwest’s board of directors. Gary has been the preeminent CEO of Southwest for nearly two decades and has built an outstanding group of leaders that will lead the airline for the next 50 years. We are pleased that he is willing to continue in his role as Executive Chairman, subject to annual elections. Bob inherited a strong strategy and momentum to continue the airline’s turnaround as the COVID pandemic wears off. Bob has the full support of the board.
Jordan, 60, is a Southwest executive who has held positions as director of revenue recognition, corporate controller, vice president of purchasing, vice president of technology, senior vice president of corporate expense management, executive vice president of strategy and technology, executive vice president and chief commercial officer, president of AirTran and executive vice president of corporate services.Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly announced today that he will be leaving the company in 2022 and will retire. He told an investor conference in Phoenix, AZ, “I am very proud of the company I helped build and the people with whom I served. As a result of this, and the desire to spend more time with my family, I am resigning as the company’s CEO at the end of 2018, and will retire from the company at the end of my term.”. Read more about gary kelly net worth and let us know what you think.
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