Southwest Airlines’ president Tom Nealon has stepped down from his post effective immediately, the latest senior leadership change at the low-cost carrier.
Southwest says in a 13 September announcement that Nealon will continue to serve as a strategic advisor to the company, “focusing primarily on the airline’s environmental sustainability and carbon emissions reduction plan”.
Nealon’s role will be filled by airline veteran Mike Van de Ven, who will retain his position as the airline’s operating chief. The Dallas-based carrier says that Van de Ven will take on the additional responsibilities of internal audit, business continuity, emergency response, as well as enterprise risk management.
Nealon was Southwest’s president for nearly five years, and was previously its executive vice president for strategy and innovation between 2016 and 2017.
The move comes about three months after Southwest chief Gary Kelly announced he would be stepping down in early 2022, handing over the reins to current airline executive vice president Bob Jordan.
Kelly, who will become airline executive chairman upon stepping down, says transition efforts “are going extremely well”, with Jordan poised to assume the chief executive role on 1 February, 2022.