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Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly named the 2016 Tony Jannus Award recipient

(June 2, 2016) The Tony Jannus Distinguished Aviation Society last month named Southwest Airlines CEO & President Gary Kelly is the recipient of the 2016 Tony Jannus Award. The Society and Tampa International Airport Vice President of Marketing Chris Minner made the announcement at a May 20 press conference on TPA’s airfield.

Under Gary's leadership, Southwest has grown to become the nation's largest airline in terms of originating domestic passengers carried and is a mainstay on Fortune magazine's list of the most admired companies in the world, ranking seventh in 2016.

Southwest is also TPA’s largest carrier and has been serving the region for 20 years.

Gary is a 30-year Southwest veteran who began his career at Southwest Airlines as Controller, moving up to Chief Financial Officer and Vice President Finance, then Executive Vice President and CFO, before being promoted to CEO and Vice Chairman in July 2004. Gary assumed the roles of Chairman and President in 2008.

Because Gary could not be at the event to accept the nomination at the May 20 announcement, Southwest sent a 737-700 plane bearing the Tony Jannus Award logo and Kelly’s name.

In its 53rd year, the prestigious Tony Jannus Award is presented annually for outstanding achievement in the field of commercial aviation. Known as the premier recognition for extraordinary accomplishments in commercial aviation, the award is named for the pilot of the first scheduled airline flight on New Year’s Day in 1914 between St. Petersburg and Tampa, Florida.

Prior-year recipients include: Donald W. Douglas, Sr., founder of Douglas Aircraft Company; Captain Edward V. Rickenbacker, Chairman of Eastern Air Lines; William Powell Lear, inventor and founder of LearJet Corporation; Colonel Frank Borman, Astronaut and CEO of Eastern Air Lines; Sir Lenox Hewett of Qantas Airways; Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines; Gordon Bethune of Continental Airlines; Honorable Norman Y. Mineta, U.S. Secretary of Transportation; Frederick W. Smith of FedEx Corporation; and Richard H. Anderson of Delta Air Lines.