Southwest’s president is retiring three months after being passed over for CEO job
DALLAS — Southwest Airlines President Tom Nealon, once seen as a prime candidate for CEO but was passed over this year, has retired.
Southwest said on Monday that 60-year-old Nilon will still serve as a consultant focusing on environmental issues, including plans to reduce carbon emissions. In a statement issued by the airline, Nealon said he was honored to have served Southwest in multiple jobs, notably at President, and looks forward to playing a strategic role.
The airline said chief operating officer Mike van de Ven, 59, has become president.
The company declined to provide Nealon for comment.
Nealon was once the airline’s chief information officer, but left and then rejoined Southwest in 2016 in a strategy role. In January 2017, he was promoted to president, formerly held by CEO Gary Kelly. That – along with Kelly’s statement that he, Nealon and van de Ven would form the CEO’s three-head office – fueled speculation that Neylon would eventually climb to the top job.
But in June, the Dallas-based airline announced that Robert Jordan, a Southwest giant who is currently executive vice president, would become CEO upon Kelly’s retirement next February.
Kelly said on Monday that the transition in Jordan is “going very well” and officials handling finance, legal and technical issues have begun reporting to Jordan instead of Kelly or Neylon.