Southwest CEO Gary Kelly to Step Down, But Doesn’t Actually Say It

June 23, 2021

Gary Kelly - Southwest Airlines

'Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly is stepping down and really doesn't quite say he is. Hope that was his decision...because if not...it's BS...'

In a somewhat weird press release, Southwest Airlines announced that CEO Gary Kelly will be stepping down next year and passing the helm of the company to longtime Southwest executive Robert Jordan.

I say 'weird' because of the way it was worded. Here is a quote in the release from Kelly:

"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. 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."

Did Kelly Step Down...Or Not?

So he's announcing Jordan as CEO...but saying nothing in regards to leaving the post.

Implied? Maybe.

Still...it's just weird.

The entire press release can be found here.

Some will say 'I'm reading too much into this'.

But, why not say you're stepping down as CEO? Or moving to a figurehead role? (because it IS a figurehead role by the way).

Something is amiss in my opinion...

Kelly Has Been the Best CEO of the 'Big Four'...and it's Not Close

If something has gone haywire with top brass and Gary (aka...was he pushed out?) it better have nothing to do with his track record:

- He never laid anyone at the airline off.

- Was a key player in the acquisition of AirTran

- He helped get rid of the Wright Amendment

- Oversaw the launch of the carrier's first international routes

- And has the nicest staff...especially in cargo (I know from experience)

I'm not brown-nosing (although the planes used to be brown...and man...they were fugly!)

Thank you Gary for changing that!!

Whatever happened, they were lucky to have him.

Congrats Gary.

P.S. They should replace him with Gordon Bethune.

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