MIAMI – A change in leadership is in store at Southwest Airlines (WN). The carrier today announced that Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly will transition to become WN’s Executive Chairman in early 2022. Executive Vice President Corporate Services Robert Jordan will become Kelly’s successor as CEO effective Feb. 1, 2022. Jordan also will join the Board on that date.
Kelly has stated his desire to serve in the EC role role through at least 2026 at the discretion of the Board of Directors.
“On behalf of the Southwest Airlines Board of Directors, I am delighted to announce Bob Jordan as CEO,” Kelly said. “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.”
THe CEO added, “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.”
Jordan, 60, is a long-time Southwest Executive who joined WN in 1988. He has served in roles including Director of Revenue Accounting, Corporate Controller, Vice President Procurement, Vice President Technology, Senior Vice President Enterprise Spend Management, Executive Vice President Strategy and Technology, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, AirTran President and Executive Vice President Corporate Services.
He has led numerous significant transformational projects, including the acquisition of AirTran Airways, the development of the new southwest.com e-commerce platform, the Rapid Rewards loyalty program, and SW’s enhanced boarding process. Most recently, Jordan led the airline’s voluntary leave and early separation programs. Those programs were key to reducing SW’s labor expenses during the pandemic and central in avoiding layoffs and furlough actions.
“I’m humbled, honored, and excited to be asked to serve as the next CEO,” 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 terrific team of Leaders, many of whom I have had the joy of working alongside for decades.”
Jordan added, “I’m looking forward to working with Gary, Mike, and Tom on the transition effort and setting up Southwest for the next 50 years of giving Customers the Freedom to Fly.”
Featured image: Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max 7 N7204U. Photo: Michael Rodeback/Airways