The Wings Club Foundation, Inc., will honor Southwest Airlines´ Chairman of the Board, and Chief Executive Officer, Gary Kelly, with the 2017 Distinguished Achievement Award, which acknowledges outstanding accomplishments in the field of aviation, the foundation said.
Under Gary Kelly´s leadership, Southwest Airlines 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 eighth in 2017.
As a Southwest veteran, Kelly began his career 31 years ago 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.
Kelly has pioneered the airline´s transformation through several key initiatives, including the acquisition of AirTran Airways, the repeal of the Wright Amendment, and the launch of international destinations for the first time in Southwest´s history; all while staying true to the carrier´s core values and people-centric culture.
The Wings Club´s Distinguished Achievement Award has been presented annually since 1975. Notable past recipients include Neil Armstrong, Senator John Glenn, President George H. W. Bush, Brigadier General Charles E. Yeager, as well as 13 present and former airline CEO´s.
The Wings Club Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Its mission is to focus on initiatives aimed at supporting scholarships for students pursuing a career in aviation or aerospace, providing programs to educate in the field of aviation, and supporting charitable organizations that use aviation to help those in need. The Wings Club Foundation serves over 1,300 members including industry leaders, pilots, professionals in related service organizations and students of aviation.