DALLAS, Aug. 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) today announced that its Senior Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer, Laura Wright, has advised the Company of her decision to retire.
Gary Kelly, Southwest's Chairman, President, and CEO, said that Wright's decision was accepted with profound gratitude for her many significant contributions to the success of Southwest over the course of the last 25 years: "Laura has played a key role in the strong financial positioning of Southwest Airlines during the most challenging and difficult times our industry has ever faced," he said. "She has been a Leader who is respected throughout our Company, our industry, and the financial community."
Under Wright's leadership, Southwest has maintained the strongest balance sheet in the American airline industry; the best fuel hedging position in our industry; and an award-winning aircraft financing strategy.
Kelly also announced that Tammy Romo has been named to succeed Wright as Senior Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer. Romo has been serving Southwest as Senior Vice President of Planning. She joined Southwest in 1991 as Manager of Financial Reporting and has previously served as Director of Investor Relations, Vice President - Treasurer, Vice President - Controller, and Vice President of Financial Planning. Prior to joining Southwest, Romo was an audit manager at Coopers & Lybrand, LLP.
"We are fortunate to have a deep and knowledgeable leadership bench," Kelly said. "Tammy is an excellent choice based on her strong accounting and technical background, outstanding strategic planning capabilities, and deep knowledge of our Company and overall corporate finance strategy."
Romo said: "I look forward to working with our superb Finance organization to continue executing on our well-planned strategies and initiatives designed to enhance Shareholder value. We have great momentum on our plans, and I am honored to step into this role."
Wright said the decision to retire was made easier by Southwest's succession planning. "We have an able successor already in place with Tammy, and an amazing Finance leadership team that won't miss a beat. I have a long list of things I'm anxious to tend to, including more time with family. With Gary's leadership and the strategies in place, I leave with confidence regarding the bright future of this great Company."
Kelly said: "Although I will personally miss Laura, I am respectful and understanding of her decision. I am also exceedingly pleased that Southwest has the demonstrated depth of management talent and leadership capability that will enable our Shareholders, Employees, and Customers to continue to be proud to be a part of the ongoing Southwest Airlines story of success."
The leadership changes will be effective Sept. 20, 2012. Wright will remain with the Company through yearend to assist with the transition. As CFO, Romo will retain her leadership over the Financial Planning and Analysis, and Strategic Planning functions from her current role.