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Southwest (LUV) Chooses New President as Tom Nealon Departs

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Southwest Airlines (LUV - Free Report) announced that its president, Tom Nealon, has decided to retire, with immediate effect. The company has chosen its chief operating officer Mike Van de Ven to succeed Nealon, effective immediately.

Besides his role as the company’s president, Van de Ven will take on additional responsibilities of Southwest’s internal audit, business continuity, emergency response and enterprise risk management functions.

Nealon will continue to serve as the company’s strategic advisor, focusing primarily on sustainability initiatives and reducing carbon emissions. During his tenure of more than 15 years with the company, Nealon served as Southwest’s executive vice president, strategy & innovation, from 2016 to 2017. He also served as a director on the Southwest board from 2010 to 2015 and as the company’s senior vice president and chief information officer from 2002 to 2006.

Regarding this management reshuffle, Southwest chairman and CEO, Gary Kelly, said, “The transition efforts being led by Executive Vice President and incoming CEO Bob Jordan are going extremely well, and as that continues, we are taking steps to shift reporting roles in preparation for Bob to assume the CEO role on February 1, 2022."

Back in June, Southwest announced that its long-serving CEO Gary Kelly will step down in February 2022. The company picked veteran Robert Jordan to succeed Kelly, who will continue to serve as the airline’s executive chairman through 2026.

Zacks Rank & Key Picks

Southwest carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the airline space are Controladora Vuela Compania de Aviacion, S.A.B. de C.V. (VLRS - Free Report) , Copa Holdings, S.A. (CPA - Free Report) and SkyWest, Inc. (SKYW - Free Report) . While Controladora Vuela sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Copa Holdings and SkyWest carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Shares of Controladora Vuela, Copa Holdings and SkyWest have rallied more than 100%, 34% and 32% in a year’s time, respectively.

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