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News & Press: Texas Business Legends

Southwest Airlines Names Thomas Nealon President

Tuesday, January 17, 2017  
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Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) announced Jan. 10 it switched up its executive leadership ranks, promoting Thomas M. Nealon to president and naming Michael G. Van de Ven COO.

 

The changes for Dallas-based Southwest are effective immediately and are part of the airline's succession planning process, CEO Gary Kelly said in a release. Southwest has a major hub at Houston's William P. Hobby Airport, where the airline opened a new international terminal in fall 2015.

 

In his role as president, Nealon, 55, will report to Kelly and have responsibility for the commercial, finance, technology, corporate delivery and corporate strategy departments. commercial and finance functions will transition to Nealon later this year.

 

Kelly formerly held the title of president as well as CEO.

 

Nealon re-joined Southwest a year ago as executive vice president of strategy & innovation. He had previously been a member of Southwest's board of directors from 2010-2015 and also served as Southwest's chief information officer from 2002-2006.

 

Nealon began his career in 1983 and in addition to Southwest has worked in a variety of roles for Frito-Lay, The Feld Group and JCPenney. Throughout his career, he has held a wide range of executive roles, including, technology, e-commerce, strategy, digital ventures, and innovation. He currently serves as a member of the board of directors for the Fossil Group.

 

As chief operating officer, Van de Ven, 55, also will report to Kelly and expand his operational responsibilities, by adding customer support and services, hospitality and the company's president's council. Van de Ven’s current responsibilities for ground operations, air operations (inflight, flight operations and network operations control), technical operations, safety and security, labor relations, and operational strategy and performance will continue.

 

Van de Ven is a 23-year veteran of Southwest and has served in various leadership positions in internal audit, finance, and, for the past 11 years, operations. In addition to operations, his experience has included financial planning; fleet planning; operational support and analytics; and network planning. Prior to joining Southwest, he worked for Ernst & Young. He currently serves as a member of the board of directors for Comerica Bank.


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