SEATTLE, Feb. 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Alaska Air Group board of directors and Bill Ayer, chairman and chief executive officer, announced today that Ayer will retire as CEO of Air Group and its subsidiary carriers, Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, effective at the company's annual shareholder meeting on May 15. Brad Tilden, a 21-year veteran at Air Group, will succeed Ayer as CEO of Air Group and the company's two airlines and will remain as president of Alaska Airlines. Ayer will continue to serve as chairman of the board.
"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. "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."
Ayer, 57, has spent three decades at Air Group, including 10 years as CEO. In addition to serving as chairman of Air Group and its subsidiary boards, he will 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.
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.
Ayer, also a private pilot, joined Horizon in 1982 and has served in a variety of marketing, planning and operational posts at the regional carrier and Alaska Airlines. He was appointed CEO of Air Group and Alaska Airlines in 2002, succeeding John F. Kelly, and became chairman in 2003. Ayer, who is joining the University of Washington Board of Regents, is chairman of the Puget Energy board, serves on the UW Foster School of Business Advisory Board, and is a director of Angel Flight West and the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group (NYSE: ALK), together serve 90 cities through an expansive network in Alaska, the Lower 48, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico. Alaska Airlines ranked "Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Traditional Network Carriers" in the J.D. Power and Associates 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 North America Airline Satisfaction Studies(SM). For reservations, visit www.alaskaair.com. For more news and information, visit the Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air Newsroom at www.alaskaair.com/newsroom.
SOURCE Alaska Air Group