Southwest Airlines Co. today announced three Leadership changes in Air Operations. Late last year, Senior Vice President of Air Operations Craig Drew announced his intention to retire after a long and storied career to spend more time with his family, but he agreed to transition to a Consultant role. Drew joined Southwest as a First Officer in 1990 and subsequently served as a Captain, Check Airman, Chief Pilot for the LAS Flight Ops Base, and Vice President Flight Operations.
“I’m thankful for Craig’s continuous passion for our Company and our People, and I appreciate his willingness to continue to serve Southwest in a consulting role,” said Southwest Airlines Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven. “Craig’s contributions to Southwest have been numerous and immeasurable, and he is especially known for bringing People and departments together in order to improve productivity and collaboration—and always with a cheerful disposition. I speak for our entire Southwest Family when we thank and congratulate Craig for his nearly 30 years of service!” With Drew’s transition, Alan Kasher has been promoted to Senior Vice President of Air Operations. Kasher previously held the role of Vice President of Flight Operations. Southwest has promoted Bob Waltz to Vice President of Flight Operations. Waltz previously served as Flight Operations Senior Director of Compliance and Operations and Part 119 Certificate Chief Pilot.
In Kasher’s role, he will oversee Flight Operations, Inflight Operations, Network Operations Control, and Regulatory Programs & Compliance. Kasher joined Southwest nearly 20 years ago as a Pilot, and upgraded to Captain in 2007. He worked in Flight Operations Safety and served in various management positions within Flight Operations and the former Operational Control Center, including Director of Operations, where he oversaw the Regulatory Programs and Compliance group.
Waltz’s primary responsibility as Vice President Flight Operations is serving Southwest’s nearly 10,000 Flight Operations Employees. He will provide Leadership and support to Flight Operations, including 11 Pilot domiciles, Crew Planning/Scheduling/Payroll, numerous Headquarters technical and support functions, and the LEAD Center, home to Southwest’s world-class Pilot training. Waltz has served Southwest Airlines for more than 20 years. After retiring from the United States Air Force Reserve as a C-130 Instructor/Evaluator Pilot and Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer, he leaned into Leadership roles at Southwest, serving as a Chief Pilot and Network Director for Network Operations Control. His passion for continuous service has helped him serve as the Operations Council Chair for Airlines for America and Southwest Check Airman.
“We’re incredibly fortunate to have such a deep bench of talent and leaders like Alan and Bob to continue to carry out the cause that is Southwest Airlines,” said Van de Ven. “These are exciting times for our Company, and I’m confident that these moves will set us up for continued success in the future.”