Aviation Tom Nealon named president of Southwest Airlines By Robert Silk / January 10, 2017 Share 1 From left, Southwest Airlines COO Mike Van de Ven, CEO Gary Kelly and president Tom Nealon. -- Southwest CEO and chairman Gary Kelly will no longer also serve as the airline's president. Executive vice president of strategy and innovation Thomas Nealon has been promoted to the post."It is important for us to evolve our leadership structure as part of our ongoing succession planning process," said Kelly, 61, in a prepared statement. Kelly has been Southwest's CEO for 12 years.Nealon, 55, rejoined Southwest a year ago. He served on the carrier's board of directors from 2010 to 2015 and served as its chief information officer from 2002 to 2006. As president, Nealon will be responsible for much of Southwest's daily operations, including the commercial, finance, technology, corporate delivery and corporate strategy departments. He reports to Kelly.Kelly will now focus more on external portions of Southwest's business, including political, governmental, industry and community affairs, as well as investor relationships. Delta, American and United each have separate presidents and CEOs.