CEO of Alaska Air to retire on May 15

By Michael Garko, In Airline News

After a decade of being Chief Executive Officer of Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, Bill Ayer announced his retirement effective May 15.  Ayer has been with Alaska Air Group for three decades, but is moving on to “participate as a member of the NextGen Advisory Committee, a panel of aviation industry leaders who are working with the FAA to modernize the nation’s air traffic control system and improve airport and airspace efficiency” according to Thursday’s announcement.

Courtesy Alaska Airlines

“The time is right to implement a succession plan that’s been in the works for several years and which the board and I believe will ensure that we continue to lead the industry in safety, customer service, operational and financial performance, and technological innovation.”

Air Group President Brad Tilden has been named as the successor to Ayer.  Tilden is a 21-year veteran of Air Group, and will remain president upon being CEO of the two airlines.

“Brad’s engaging leadership style, strong values and seasoned judgment have helped to fundamentally transform our company as we’ve navigated through some of the toughest challenges in commercial aviation history,” Ayer said.

Air Group gave more insight on Tilden’s rise to CEO of Alaska and Horizon:

Tilden, who is 51, joined Alaska Airlines from Price Waterhouse in 1991. He was promoted to Air Group’s chief financial officer in 2000, to executive vice president – planning and finance in 2007, and to president of Alaska Airlines in 2008. As president, Tilden has overseen the nation’s seventh-largest airline, with 9,500 employees and 119 aircraft serving 61 destinations across the continental United States and in Alaska, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico.

In addition to serving on the Alaska Air Group board, Tilden is a director of Flow International Corp., Pacific Lutheran University and the Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts of America (where he will serve as council president beginning in March). He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Pacific Lutheran University and an MBA from the University of Washington and is a private pilot.

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