the longtime chairman and chief executive of
Southwest Airlines Co.
, will step down as CEO in February and will be succeeded by
the airline’s executive vice president of corporate services.
Mr. Jordan, a 60-year-old Southwest executive, has been with the company since 1988. Mr. Kelly, who has served as CEO since 2004, will become the airline’s executive chairman. He plans to serve in that role until at least 2026 at the discretion of the company’s board, the airline said.
During a career at the company that has spanned several job titles, Mr. Jordan has overseen Southwest’s acquisition of AirTran Airways, the development of a new e-commerce platform for Southwest’s website and the company’s Rapid Rewards loyalty program, the airline said.
Mr. Jordan will take the helm as Southwest and other airlines chart a recovery from the lows of the Covid-19 pandemic. Air travel plummeted last year as lockdowns and fears of the coronavirus kept tourists and business travelers at home. Travel has begun rebounding in recent months amid the U.S.’s vaccination campaign.
Domestic and leisure travel—focus areas for Southwest—have recovered faster than business and international trips.
Southwest Airlines shares declined about 0.9% in early trading on Wednesday. They are about 19% higher on the year so far.
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