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Aviation Week Network and the IAC Name Former Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly the L. Welch Pogue Recipient

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International Aviation Club

Awards Ceremony Takes Place on September 10, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES, May 21, 2024 / -- Aviation Week Network and the International Aviation Club of Washington D.C. (IAC) today announce former Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly is the recipient of the 2024 L. Welch Pogue Award for Lifetime Achievement in Aviation.

Kelly’s extensive and influential career with Southwest Airlines began in 1986 when he joined the company as Controller, moving up to Chief Financial Officer and Vice President Finance, then Executive Vice President and CFO in 2001, before being promoted to CEO and Vice Chairman in July 2004. Kelly assumed the roles of Chairman and President in 2008, and in 2022 he relinquished the role of President and CEO and assumed the role of Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Kelly pioneered the airline's transformation through several major initiatives, including the acquisition of AirTran Airways, the repeal of the Wright Amendment, the launch of international destinations for the first time in Southwest's history, the installment of a new reservation system, and the launch of service to Hawaii in 2019. Southwest’s success has prompted the global phenomenon of low-cost carriers becoming a part of the established international air transport industry, making safe air travel affordable to people everywhere.

Kelly is also a long-time supporter and advocate of aviation. He is a former Chairman of the Board of Airlines for America and is a member of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Board.

The L. Welch Pogue Award was first presented in 1994 to L. Welch Pogue, the former chairman of the Civil Aviation Board and a U.S. delegate at the Chicago Convention, which created the legal blueprint for post-WWII expansion of commercial aviation. The Award is presented annually to leaders who have made significant and lasting contributions to the global air transport industry and who are considered visionaries in modern aviation.

IAC President Amna Arshad said, “On behalf of IAC, our sincere congratulations to Gary for this highly-deserved recognition. Gary’s stellar career has made him one of the best-known and most respected industry leaders in the world. Under his leadership, Southwest became an international player, while Gary was also instrumental in helping campaign for critical government funding via the U.S. Cares Act that enabled U.S. aviation to survive the devastating COVID pandemic.”

Kelly said, “I am truly humbled and honored to receive this prestigious award, which is a testament to the People of Southwest Airlines for building one of the most admired companies in the world. I am especially delighted to be recognized alongside so many notable and esteemed aviation pioneers—including my mentor and friend Herb Kelleher.”

The 2024 L Welch Pogue Award will be presented to Kelly at a gala dinner at the Jones Day Building in Washington D.C, on September 10, 2024. Details on sponsorships and table purchases can be found at

Since 1961, the IAC of Washington D.C. has been the forum for new faces and new pronouncements affecting commercial aviation in the United States and the worldwide community. The IAC brings together aviation professionals who support a common objective of fostering and promoting the maintenance and development of aircraft, airports, air navigation and air transportation, international agreements, co-operation and treaties.

Aviation Week Network is the largest multimedia information and services provider for the global aviation, aerospace, and defense industries, serving 1.2 million professionals around the world. Industry professionals rely on Aviation Week Network to help them understand the market, make decisions, predict trends, and connect with people and business opportunities. Customers include the world’s leading aerospace manufacturers and suppliers, airlines, airports, business aviation operators, militaries, governments and other organizations that serve this worldwide marketplace. Aviation Week Network’s portfolio delivers award-winning journalism, data, intelligence and analytical resources, world-class tradeshows and conferences, and results-driven marketing services and advertising.

Aviation Week Network is part of Informa Markets, a division of Informa PLC.

Informa Markets creates platforms for industries and specialist markets to trade, innovate and grow. Our portfolio is comprised of more than 550 international B2B events and brands in markets including Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals, Infrastructure, Construction & Real Estate, Fashion & Apparel, Hospitality, Food & Beverage, and Health & Nutrition, among others. We provide customers and partners around the globe with opportunities to engage, experience and do business through face-to-face exhibitions, specialist digital content and actionable data solutions. As the world’s leading exhibitions organizer, we bring a diverse range of specialist markets to life, unlocking opportunities and helping them to thrive 365 days of the year. For more information, please visit

Elizabeth Sisk
Aviation Week Network
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