CEO Gary Kelly's Net Worth After 35 Years With Southwest Airlines

As the CEO of Southwest Airlines, one of the most successful airlines in the U.S., what is Gary Kelly's net worth?

Ade Hennis - Author

Oct. 13 2021, Published 3:29 p.m. ET

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly
Source: Getty Images

Southwest Airlines celebrated its 50th year of business in June. It has been one of the top airlines in the U.S. for decades. During its tenure, the airline has had positive reviews on its employee and customer services. Southwest CEO Gary Kelly has been part of the company's success for over 35 years.

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Gary Kelly

CEO of Southwest Airlines

Net worth: $47.66 million

Gary Kelly has been the CEO of Southwest Airlines since July 2004. His base salary for 2020 was $562,500, while his total compensation that year was $9.2 million. The total compensation that year includes $7.1 million in stock rewards. Kelly has a Bachelor's degree in Accounting from the University of Texas at Austin. He's also a Certified Public Accountant.

Birth name: Gary Clayton Kelly

Date of Birth: March 12, 1955

Birthplace: San Antonio, Texas

Wife: Carol Kelly

Children: Caroline Kelly, Elizabeth Kelly

Education: University of Texas at Austin

Thousands of Southwest flights were canceled last weekend, which caused issues across various airports in the U.S. Kelly issued an apology for the cancellations and admitted that the company didn’t handle them properly. Also, Kelly publicly expressed his displeasure in enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees. He explained that the company had to do so in order to comply with federal regulations. As a successful CEO, what's Kelly's net worth?

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Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly
Source: Getty Images

Gary Kelly’s tenure at Southwest Airlines

Kelly has served as the CEO of Southwest Airlines since July 2004. He has also been the Chairman of the Board since May 2008. Kelly was the company's president from July 2008 until January 2017. Current Southwest adviser Tom Nealon took over as president after Kelly stepped down. However, Nealon suddenly retired from the role in September. COO Mike Van de Ven is now the president of the company.

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Kelly has worked for Southwest Airlines for the past 35 years and worked his way up to the CEO role. He joined the company as a controller in 1986. Kelly served as the president of finance and was the CFO from 1989 to 2001. From June 2001 to July 2004, Kelly was the executive vice president along with being CFO.

In June, Kelly announced that he’s stepping down from the role in February 2022. Robert Jordan, Southwest’s current executive vice president for corporate services, will take over as the CEO next year. Kelly takes pride in the fact that the airline hasn't had a single layoff or furlough in its 50-year history.

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Gary Kelly’s net worth.

Kelly has a net worth of $47.66 million and he owns at least 485,597 units of Southwest Airlines stock. He has sold over approximately $61.25 million of its shares in the last 17 years. According to The Dallas Morning News, the CEO made a reported amount of $9.2 million in total compensation, which includes salary, stock awards, and other compensation. Even though Kelly’s 2020 salary decreased by $187,500 from his 2019 salary, he earned $463,979 more in total compensation compared to 2019.

A significant portion of Kelly’s total earnings is derived from stock awards. He was awarded $7,125,017 in stocks for 2020. He received $300,000 in bonuses that year along with over $150,000 in other types of compensation. In November 2020, Kelly surrender the rest of his salary for that year. He's the highest-paid executive in the company. CFO Tammy Romo had the second-highest salary in 2020 with $445,192. Kelly has been adamant about himself and other executives taking pay cuts. In April, Southwest executives took a 20 percent pay cut in their base salaries.


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