Tom Nealon, 60, has decided to retire from his duties as President of Southwest Airlines effective immediately, but will continue to serve the Company as a strategic advisor, focusing primarily on the airline's environmental sustainability and carbon emissions reduction plan.
Nealon has held numerous leadership positions during his tenure with the airline, including Executive Vice President Strategy & Innovation from 2016 to 2017, Director on the Southwest Board from 2010 to 2015, and in a consultant capacity as Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer from 2002 to 2006.
"I'm honored to have served Southwest throughout the years in several different capacities, and especially to have been President of the best airline in the business," Nealon said. "I look forward to continuing to serve and advise Southwest on strategic initiatives, and most importantly, on the airline's long-term environmental sustainability plans."
Gary Kelly, Southwest's Chairman and CEO, announced on behalf of the Southwest Airlines Board of Directors that Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven, 59, has been named as the Company's President, effective immediately. Van de Ven will take on the additional responsibilities of the Company's Internal Audit, Business Continuity, Emergency Response, and Enterprise Risk Management functions.
I want to thank Tom for his countless contributions to the cause that is Southwest Airlines over the years—they are many and immeasurable. I'm grateful Tom will continue serving as a strategic advisor. I'm thrilled for Mike as he assumes his new role as President, in addition to COO. Mike is as talented and dedicated a leader as one will find, and he has directly contributed to Southwest's success during his 28 years serving the Company and our People.
"The transition efforts being led by Executive Vice President and incoming CEO Bob Jordan are going extremely well, and as that continues, we are taking steps to shift reporting roles in preparation for Bob to assume the CEO role on February 1, 2022," said Kelly.
As the transition progresses, the Finance, Commercial, Legal & Regulatory, Operations, and Technology teams that were reporting to Kelly or Nealon will now report to Jordan, also effective immediately.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, I'd like to thank Tom for his nearly five-year tenure as President and more than 15 years of service to our Southwest Airlines Employees, Customers, Shareholders, and the Communities we serve," said Southwest Airlines Lead Director William Cunningham. We are extremely proud to have such a talented and robust leadership bench at Southwest Airlines, and are delighted with the announcement of Mike Van de Ven as Tom's successor.