An airline industry icon will step down next year after a long run in the business.
said Thursday that co-founder Herb Kelleher, 76, will give up his job as executive chairman and director at the company's 2008 annual meeting.
Additionally, Colleen Barrett, 62, will leave her post as president and director on July 15, 2008. Gary Kelly, 53, will continue as CEO under a contract that expires in 2011.
Southwest began flying in 1971. In 1978, Kelleher stepped in as interim president, CEO and chairman. That same year, Barrett joined the company as corporate secretary. Kelleher soon gave up the CEO job, though he reclaimed it in 1981 and served for 20 years.
In a prepared statement, Kelleher said he will resign because an organizational transition that began in 2001 will be complete and because of his confidence in Southwest's management. Added Barrett: "It is time to allow the next generation of SWA leaders their day to lead."
Both Kelleher, who is exempt from mandatory retirement, and Barrett will remain as full-time airline employees until 2013, the company said.