Gary C. Kelly

Southwest makes executive changes with an eye on succession

Southwest Airlines Co. is making changes in the front office that could offer clues as to who will eventually succeed Gary Kelly as CEO and chairman.

The company said Tuesday that it promoted Thomas Nealon, 55, to president, a title that Kelly had held. Nealon is a former Southwest chief information officer and board member who rejoined the company a year ago in a strategy job.

Nealon and Michael Van de Ven, also 55 and the airline's chief operating officer, will both report to Kelly, who has led the Dallas-based airline for 12 years. Kelly described the arrangement as a three-headed office of the CEO.

Southwest does not have a mandatory retirement age for executives....