Southwest Airlines senior exec retires

Ginger C. Hardage, Southwest Airlines senior vice president, culture & communications, announced her retirement from the carrier, effective Dec. 31, 2015.

As the senior leader overseeing Culture & Communication at Southwest–the nation´s largest airline in terms of originating domestic passengers boarded–Hardage championed the airline´s communication and outreach evolution, including Southwest´s companywide Emergency Response effort, expanding the communication functions to include more robust internal communications capabilities and a social business effort, and a focused corporate philanthropy program. For the past seven years, she also led the airline´s Culture Committee, Employee recognition and engagement, and the companywide celebrations.

With Hardage´s retirement, the airline´s Culture team and programs will report to Teresa Laraba, Southwest´s Senior Vice President of Customers and Culture. Linda Rutherford, Vice President, Chief Communications Officer, will now report to Southwest Chairman, President, and CEO Gary Kelly and assume responsibility for the Employee Engagement & Travel teams in addition to her leadership of the Communication and Outreach teams.

Hardage joined the airline in December 1990 as the director of Public Relations and moved to several senior leadership positions before being named the SVP of Culture & Communications in August 2005.

In its 45th year of service, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) boasts more than 48,000 employees and more than 100 million customers annually. It operates more than 3,600 flights a day, serving 97 destinations across the United States and seven additional countries.