Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly announces retirement, to be succeeded by Robert Jordan

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly has announced his retirement plans, effective from February 1st 2022, he would no longer serve as its CEO and would transition to become the airline’s Executive Chairman and plans to serve in that role until at least 2026. Robert Jordan, Executive Vice President Corporate Services, will become Mr Kelly’s successor who would also join the Board of Directors at the same time.

Kelly, now 66, has had a venerable career at the airlines and has supported it through good and bad times both. He became CEO of the airline in 2004 and has since then spent 35 years working with it.

Kelly worked his way up from being a Controller, to becoming the Chief Financial Officer and Vice President Finance, then Executive Vice President, before becoming CEO and Vice Chairman in July 2004. As the CEO he championed many major initiatives that transformed Southwest into a national brand- like the recent acquisition of AirTran Airways, repeal of the Wright Amendment, the launch of international destinations for the first time in Southwest’s history and many more.

Jordan, 60, who now succeeds him has also spent many years with the airlines. He first joined Southwest in 1988. He also worked a variety of roles including Director of Revenue Accounting, Corporate Controller, Vice President Procurement, Vice President Technology, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, AirTran President, and most recently Executive Vice President Corporate Services.

Gary Kelly stated the following on Mr. Jordan’s promotion to CEO:

“On behalf of the Southwest Airlines Board of Directors, I am delighted to announce Bob Jordan as CEO. Bob and I have worked side by side for more than 30 years. He is a gifted and experienced executive and well-prepared to take on this important role. Working closely with President Tom Nealon and Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven, we will begin developing transition plans in the coming weeks and months. These three top-notch Leaders make for a powerful team to lead us forward.”

No other update regarding leadership changes has been announced by the airlines.