Southwest Appoints New CEO, Kelly to Become Executive Chairman

By Paul Riegler on 23 June 2021
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A Southwest jet taking off in Newark

Southwest Airlines announced that its current CEO, Gary Kelly, will become executive chairman of the board early next year. It also announced the appointment of Robert Jordan, currently the executive vice president for corporate services, to the position of CEO and that he will be appointed to the company’s board of directors.

The changes are effective February 1, 2022.

Mr. Kelly, who joined the airline in 1986, said he hopes to serve as executive chairman through at least 2026.

Mr. Jordan “is a gifted and experienced executive and well-prepared to take on this important role,” Mr. Kelly said in a statement.

Gary Kelly joined the airline in 1986 as Controller, following a stint as a CPA at Arthur Young and as Controller for Systems Center.  Over the course of his career at the airline, he served as chief financial officer, vice president for finance, executive vice president and CFO.  He became CEO and vice chairman in 2004 and chairman and president in 2008.  He relinquished the title of president in 2017, naming former Southwest board member and executive Tom Nealon to that position.

Robert Jordan joined the airline in 1988 and has served in a variety of positions starting as director of revenue accounting and moving on to corporate controller, vice president of procurement, vice president of technology, executive vice president for strategy, and chief commercial officer.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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