AP: Southwest Airlines gives its CEO big pay hike

Southwest rewards exec after earnings surge.By DAVID KOENIG AP Airlines Writer
Published: 4/17/2011  2:34 AM

DALLAS – Southwest Airlines Co. more than doubled its CEO’s compensation for last year, to nearly $3.4 million, thanks mainly to a stock award worth $1.8 million.

Gary C. Kelly was rewarded for a big jump in Southwest’s income as passenger traffic rose sharply in a bounce-back year for the airline industry.

Southwest’s earnings surged to $459 million last year from $99 million in 2009, although its stock price did not appreciate as quickly – rising 14 percent in 2010. Kelly also engineered Southwest’s biggest acquisition ever, the $1.4 billion purchase of AirTran Airways that will increase Southwest’s size by 25 percent. The deal is expected to close in the next few weeks.

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