Mike Van de Ven

Former President and Chief Operating Officer, Southwest Airlines

Mike Van de Ven

Mike Van de Ven

Mike is a respected 30 year veteran in the aviation industry. He shares his insights learned as an officer of Southwest Airlines, as the Company navigated through challenges ranging from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to recovering from the devastating impacts of COVID. In a challenging industry, SWA has won numerous awards and been consistently recognised as being a Company where Employees love to work, where Customers love to fly, with the financial results that have provided Employees complete job security throughout its history. Mike speaks with extensive experience on the themes of leadership, culture, teamwork, and Employee engagement that are the foundation for Southwest’s success.


Leadership in Uncertainty
New & Noteworthy

Travels from

East Coast USA


Mike has worked in several departments while at Southwest, including Internal Audit, Financial Planning, and Operations.  As Chief Operating Officer, Mike was responsible for the day-to-day operations at Southwest for 17 years.

From humble beginnings in 1971, Southwest grew to operate the largest point to point network in the world; flying the largest all Boeing fleet in the world; and is known for its blend of Company Culture, Customer Service, operational efficiency, reliability, and consistent financial results.  Mike is passionate about the purpose, teamwork and leadership efforts required to produce those results.   He was an avid team-builder and supporter for frontline Employees and spent substantial time in airports, crew bases, maintenance hangars, call centres, the network operations control centre, and training centres, to listen to, talk with, and support the People of Southwest Airlines.

Mike was the accountable safety executive at the Company, overseeing the Safety Management Systems and Emergency Response Programs.  He also led Southwest’s fleet planning efforts and relationships with aircraft and engine manufacturers.  During his tenure as COO, Southwest introduced the 737-800 and 737-8 to the fleet, acquired Airtran, and expanded the network to include International and Hawaii destinations.

Mike also serves as Chair of the Compensation Committee on the Board of Directors for Comerica Bank and is a member of the Advisory Council for the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas in Austin.



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