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Southwest Airlines announces executive promotions

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Staff Writer | Dallas, Tx., USA | January 11, 2017
Southwest AirlinesJanuary 11, 2017, Dallas, Tx., USA - Southwest Airlines Co. announced changes to the company's executive leadership ranks with Thomas M. Nealon named as president and Michael G. Van de Ven named as the airline's chief operating officer.
Thomas M. Nealon re-joined Southwest a year ago as Executive Vice President 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.

Mr. 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.

Michael G. Van de Ven's current responsibilities for Ground Operations, Air Operations (Inflight, Flight Operations, and Network Operations Control), Technical Operations, Safety & Security, Labor Relations, and Operational Strategy & Performance will continue.

Mr. Van de Ven is a 23-year veteran of Southwest and has served in various leadership positions in Internal Audit, Finance, and, for the last 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.

Other leadership changes and announcements are:

Greg Wells has been promoted to Executive Vice President Daily Operations.

Mr. Wells will be responsible for Ground, Air, and Technical operations; he also will oversee the airline's Hospitality efforts and the systemwide President's Council, which focuses on operational policies, services, and innovations.

Mr. Wells will continue in his role as the Company's Emergency Director and oversee the airline's response efforts to various emergency events such as an aircraft incident/accident, natural disaster, or global terror event.

Andrew Watterson has been promoted to Senior Vice President & Chief Revenue Officer, and will assume additional responsibilities for the Customer Relations & Rapid Rewards Department.

He also lead the Business Development, Revenue Management & Pricing, and Network Planning departments.

Steve Goldberg has been promoted to Senior Vice President Ground Operations & Provisioning.

Vice President Labor Relations Michael Ryan has announced his retirement effective March 1, 2017, and Russell McCrady has been named Vice President to succeed him in that role.

Gary C. Kelly has been with Southwest for 30 years and CEO for the last 12 years. He continues in his role as CEO and as the Chairman of Southwest's Board of Directors.