Southwest Airlines Names New Chairman of the Board

DALLAS, May 21 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Today, Southwest Airlines Board of Directors elected Gary Kelly, Southwest's Chief Executive Officer, as its Chairman of the Board. The airline announced that Kelly will also assume the title of President when Colleen Barrett's employment contract expires on July 15, 2008 making Kelly CEO, Chairman, and President at that time. Additionally, the Board of Directors elected Executive Vice President Ron Ricks to fill Barrett's vacated position of Corporate Secretary.

"The awesome task before us is to ensure the continued prosperity of Southwest Airlines -- one of the greatest success stories in American business," Kelly said. "We all pledge to continue to keep the LUV alive and the Warrior Spirit strong that Herb and Colleen inspire in all 34,000 Southwest Employees."

Herb Kelleher ceremoniously passed the gavel to Kelly at Southwest Airlines' annual Shareholders' meeting today at the Company's headquarters. More than 300 Shareholders attended the meeting where Kelleher and Barrett were honored for their more than 40 years of service to the airline. Both Kelleher and Barrett will remain full-time Southwest Airlines Employees through July 2013.

To view a tribute video, click here Or for an online version, click here

Additionally, the airline redefined the roles of its three Executive Vice Presidents. Bob Jordan, Executive Vice President Strategy and Planning; is responsible for strategic planning, technology, airport security, facilities, and schedule planning. Ron Ricks, Executive Vice President Corporate Services and Corporate Secretary; is responsible for legal, labor and Employee relations, political and public affairs, and properties. Mike Van de Ven, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer; is responsible for all operations, maintenance, Customer Services, safety, security, and environmental services.

"Southwest Airlines has a depth of management talent and Leadership capability within our Officers that has been put in place to best enable a successful future for Southwest Airlines." Kelly said. "Southwest Airlines is prepared for this as succession transition planning has been a priority of our Board of Directors for a number of years."

After 37 years of service, Southwest Airlines, the nation's leading low-fare carrier continues to differentiate itself from other low-fare carriers -- offering a reliable product with exemplary Customer Service. Southwest Airlines is the most productive airline in the sky and offers Customers an excellent traveling experience. Southwest offers a very comfortable ride with premium all leather seats and plenty of legroom with a young all-Boeing 737 fleet. Southwest recently updated its gate areas and improved its boarding procedure to make flying Southwest even more convenient and simple. Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV), the nation's largest carrier in terms of domestic passengers enplaned, currently serves 64 cities in 32 states. Based in Dallas, Southwest currently operates more than 3,400 flights a day and has more than 34,000 Employees systemwide.