Southwest Airlines CEO gets 24 percent boost in compensation

AP News
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Posted: Apr 06, 2015 1:56 PM

DALLAS (AP) — Southwest Airlines Co. earned a record profit last year and the CEO benefited with a 24 percent increase in compensation, to $5 million.

Southwest detailed 2014 compensation for Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly in a regulatory filing Monday.

The bulk of Kelly's compensation came in stock awards, which the Dallas-based airline valued at $3 million when they were issued, up from $2.25 million in 2013. Kelly was paid a salary of $675,000 — unchanged from the previous two years — a bonus of $224,775 and incentive pay of $904,770.

Kelly also got $174,793 in other compensation including company contributions to retirement and profit-sharing plans, and $23,561 in above-market earnings on deferred compensation.

Southwest is the fourth-biggest U.S. airline company by passenger traffic. Last year it earned record net income of $1.14 billion on rising traffic and average fares and falling jet fuel costs.

Shareholders profited as the company's stock soared 125 percent last year, the largest increase among the nine biggest U.S. airline companies.

Kelly, 60, became CEO in 2004 and added the chairman's title in 2008 after co-founder Herb Kelleher's retirement. Kelly oversaw the 2011 acquisition of AirTran Airways, which boosted Southwest's size by about one-fourth and led to international flying by the previously all-domestic airline.

Southwest carries more passengers within the U.S. than any airline, although American, United and Delta are larger when international traffic is included. The other three have not yet detailed 2014 executive compensation in regulatory filings.

The Associated Press calculates executive compensation by including salary, bonuses, perks, above-market interest that the company pays on deferred compensation, and the estimated value of stock and stock options awarded during the year. It does not include changes in the present value of pension benefits, so the AP total can differ slightly from the total reported by companies to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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David Koenig can be reached at http://twitter.com/airlinewriter