Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly will step down

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly will step down

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly, 66, will resign from his position and “transition roles” to become executive chairman, the organization reported Wednesday.

Robert Jordan, Southwest’s executive vice president for corporate services will become the next CEO, beginning Feb. 1 one year from now. He joined the aircraft in 1988 and served a few key roles.

“Bob and I have worked side by side for more than 30 years,” Kelly said in a press release. “He is a gifted and experienced executive and well prepared to take on this important role.”

Kelly has served as Southwest CEO since 2004, directing the aircraft’s first international routes, the acquisition of AirTran Airways and bringing the Boeing 737 Max into its fleet.

In the aircraft’s 50-year history, it has never had a single layoff or furlough — in any event, during the Covid pandemic. Most recently, approaching CEO Jordan was responsible for the organization’s voluntary leave and early separation programs, which were “instrumental in avoiding layoffs and furlough actions,” the organization said on Wednesday.

“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.”