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Change in Command: Southwest Celebrates Bob Jordan’s First Day as CEO

After 30 years working for Southwest Airlines, Bob Jordan is officially installed as the chief executive of the “LUV” airline.
The first chief executive transition of 2022 is complete


After working for over 30 years within Southwest Airlines, Bob Jordan officially became the airline’s sixth CEO on Tuesday, February 1, 2022. Although he acknowledges that there are challenges ahead, the leader says he’s ready for the challenge in an open letter to the public.


“We Champion Causes That Matter Most, Because We’re More Than an Airline”

The transition began with a video montage to outgoing chief executive Gary Kelly, who replaced James Parker in 2004. Although he will no longer be involved in a day-to-day role with the company, Kelly will keep his title as executive chairman of the board through 2026.



Acknowledging the role technology played in the airline industry’s transformation over the past 30 years, Jordan says his key goal is to continually improve the customer experience. Without naming specifics, his introduction reinforces Southwest’s key advantages.


“As technology continues to evolve, we’re dedicated to modernizing your Customer Experience without losing sight of what’s served us so well for the past 50 years,” the letter reads. “Offering a low-cost, high-quality travel experience, when and where you want to fly; ensuring operational reliability; and delivering unique, unrivaled Hospitality.”


Jordan is also prioritizing diversity and inclusion in the workforce, along with reducing the airline’s carbon footprint as part of his priorities. Under his administration, he wants Southwest to achieve carbon neutrality in 28 years, by 2050.


“We champion causes that matter most, because we’re more than an airline,” the letter reads. “We’re your neighbors, and some of our most important work is done on the ground.”


He will also adopt several challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, including hiring enough workers to prevent network meltdowns, quelling issues within the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, and returning the carrier to profitability in 2022 and beyond. However, some things will never change for the carrier. In an interview with the Associated Press, the new executive says no fees for two checked bags per passenger and no change fees “make perfect sense,” and he cannot foresee a day where the airline will move to assigned seats.