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Southwest Airlines makes executive changes

Southwest Airlines announced changes to its top-tier management Wednesday as it continues to merge with AirTran Airways.

Matt Hafner has been named vice president of operations coordination center for Southwest, Alfred Smith III was named vice president of ground operations/AirTran for Southwest, Nan Barry was promoted to managing director of the executive office for Southwest, and Jim Sturgis has been named managing director of quality for Southwest.

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Special Photo Matt Hafner was recently named Southwest’s vice president of the operations coordination center.

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Special Photo Nan Barry was recently named Southwest’s managing director of the executive office.

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Special Photo Alfred Smith, III was recently named Southwest’s vice president of ground operations/AirTran.

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Special Photo Jim Sturgis was recently named Southwest’s managing director of quality, programs and maintenance safety.

Todd Painter, a Southwest spokesman, confirmed the changes. Painter said the new positions for Hafner, Smith and Barry are effective immediately, while Sturgis will assume his position on April 2.

Hafner will oversee the airline’s 3,200 daily flights and AirTran’s 600-plus flights to ensure a secure and efficient flight experience for travelers.

Painter said Hafner will manage a variety of areas, which includes dispatch, meteorology, air traffic and customer service coordinators. Hafner is the airline’s current senior vice president of integrated operations and most recently served in positions such as senior director/ground operations, and vice president/ground operations.

“Hafner started his Southwest career in June 1988 as a Dallas ramp agent and later served in numerous positions within the Ground Operations Department,” Painter explained.

Smith will manage all ground operations for AirTran Airways and play a significant role in the integration of both airlines’ ground operation functions. He is the current senior vice president of customer service for AirTran, began his career with AirTran in April 2002 and has been responsible in a variety of areas, including ground operations, inflight, cargo and reservations.

Prior to this, Smith served in leadership roles for Northwest Airlines and Midway Airlines, he said.

Barry will be chief of staff to Gary Kelly, who is chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer for Southwest. “She also will oversee the administration of Southwest’s board of directors and the executive office as well as management of the company’s executive committees,” he said.

Barry is the current senior director to Southwest’s CEO and a Texas certified public accountant. She was employed with airlines in 1988, he said. She assumed numerous leadership positions within the airlines’ Finance Department, such as senior director of treasury and tax. Before her Southwest career, Painter said, she was a public accountant for Arthur Young & Co.

Sturgis’ new role will report within the Technical Operations Department and will lend leadership for the quality assurance, aircraft programs and maintenance safety teams.

Sturgis, Painter said, will also be the liaison and contact person with the Federal Aviation Administration in regards to regulatory matters related to Southwest maintenance.

Painter said Sturgis will be joining Southwest from CAVOK, a global aviation supervisory consultation firm based in Keller, Texas. He is the founder of the firm and served as president there, he said.