Southwest Airlines Announces More Executive Leadership Changes

"These changes solidify Southwest's executive leadership team as we work to achieve our objectives for 2024 and beyond," Bob Jordan, Southwest Airlines president & CEO, said.

Dallas-based discount airline giant Southwest Airlines Co. announced its latest round of executive leadership changes and organizational alignment, effective Dec.1, that the company said would provide additional focus and clarity to support its strategic priorities.

In October, the airline elevated five veteran leaders to vice president roles, bolstering its operations, planning, customer perks, and more. The promotions continued the airline’s restructuring efforts started in September 2022.

“We’re closing out a year of purposeful investment in our capabilities and resiliency, having made enormous strides in a more seamless experience for our customers,” Bob Jordan, Southwest Airlines president & CEO, said in a statement. “These changes solidify Southwest’s executive leadership team as we work to achieve our objectives for 2024 and beyond.”

The moves are in recognition of excellent leadership, Jordan said and added, “we’re collectively creating an organizational structure that reflects our priority of caring for the employees who serve our customers, elevating the experience of traveling, and bolstering our foundational reliability and financial performance.”

Operations and Customer Experience

Justin Jones will rise to executive vice president operations, reporting to COO Andrew Watterson. Jones will lead the Teams coordinating modernization and oversight of the daily operation of the airline.

The company said that Jones will create closer alignment between operating and implementation teams and provide leadership support for Chief Operating Officer Andrew Watterson. Jones will lead the organizations responsible for operations & hospitality, air operations, technical operations, and ops strategy & design.

Jones joined Southwest Airlines in 2001 and has held positions executive roles in operational strategy & performance, technical operations, and revenue management & pricing.

Tony Roach will advance to a new role as senior vice president & chief customer officer under EVP & chief commercial officer Ryan Green, who now will report to Watterson. Roach will oversee the end-to-end Customer Experience.

As SVP & chief customer officer, Roach will oversee marketing, customer experience, digital experience, travel products, customer engagement, customer support & services, and innovation.

With more than two decades of experience at Southwest, Roach drove transformational changes at Southwest, including the establishment of a Customer Experience corporate function, leading the Southwest Promise (the Company’s COVID response program), spearheading the digital self-service and cabin modernization programs, and provided leadership in many customer-impacting roles across field marketing, corporate sales, product development, loyalty marketing & partnerships, customer experience, and customer relations.

People, communications, AI and data

Elizabeth Bryant will advance to senior vice president & chief people officer and Whitney Eichinger will become SVP & chief communications officer, and both will continue reporting to chief administration officer Linda Rutherford.

Bryant will provide executive leadership for human resources, benefits and compensation, and training. Since joining Southwest in 1997, she has led a number of transformative initiatives, the company said, including training centralization, furthering performance management, implementing new HR-related tech, and integrating AirTran employees into the Southwest organization.

Eichinger will lead Culture & Communications in differentiating the Southwest brand for internal and external audiences with transparent and creative communication, strong community support, and a highly engaged workforce well-recognized for celebrating customers and each other. Eichinger has shaped nearly two decades of innovative engagement and memorable experiences for Southwest Customers and Employees.

Angela Marano will join Rutherford’s executive leadership team in assuming the role of vice president artificial intelligence & data transformation to lead a new organization defining an infrastructure and governance to harness the power of data and artificial intelligence and the company’s Data Privacy Office.

Marano assumes the VP artificial intelligence & data transformation role to harmonize work from teams responsible for data science, automation, and artificial intelligence into one organization. She is responsible for creating an information governance practice incorporating the Data Privacy Office. While at Southwest, Marano has served as a catalyst for great transformation in building new capabilities for enabling transformation and modernization of the airline operation, customer experience, and enterprise functions, the company said.

Regulatory affairs

Jason Van Eaton will advance to SVP & chief corporate affairs officer, reporting to Executive Vice President and chief Legal & Regulatory Officer Mark Shaw.

Van Eaton will manage legislative and regulatory policy, airport relationships, facility construction and maintenance, corporate security, and real estate planning.

Before his nearly nine years at Southwest, Van Eaton’s professional life revolved around project management, strategic planning and development, and legislative and regulatory policy. He held positions in the U.S. Senate for 13 years before founding a consulting services company.

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