Alaska Airlines Appoints (Predictable) New CEO

Filed Under: Alaska

Alaska Airlines has become the first major US airline to announce a leadership change since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ben Minicucci appointed Alaska Airlines CEO

Alaska Airlines’ board of directors has announced today that Brad Tilden will retire as CEO as of March 31, 2021, though will continue to serve as chairman of the board. As of that date, Ben Minicucci, who is currently President of Alaska Airlines, will succeed him.

March 31 is shaping up to be quite a day for Alaska frequent flyers, between Alaska joining the oneworld alliance, and Alaska losing access to Emirates first class awards as of that date.

As Tilden describes this development:

“We are through the initial phases of our coronavirus response, and Alaska is on a solid trajectory. Now is the time to position Alaska for future growth, and now is the time to move forward with this long-planned transition. Ben has proven himself over a long career as a person who cares passionately about our people and our culture, as a leader who builds strong teams and produces results, and as a person who will work tirelessly to push this great company forward. He has earned this role, and I look forward to supporting him as board chair.”

Here’s what Minicucci had to say about his promotion:

“I am honored and humbled by this incredible opportunity, and profoundly grateful for Brad’s leadership and partnership. Our company is built on the strength of its people and our values, and I am so proud of who we are and all we have accomplished. The way in which our employees have navigated through challenges is truly inspiring – and the last nine months is no exception. I’m excited and optimistic about our future as we continue this journey together.”

Ben Minicucci (left) and Brad Tilden (right)

This is all more or less expected

Both Tilden and Minicucci have been in the airline industry for a long time, and have been at Alaska Airlines for over 15 years. This transition of power has allegedly been in the works for a while, and if anything may have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tilden has had quite a career at Alaska Airlines:

  • In 1991 he started at Alaska Airlines, working in accounting, and within a few years became corporate controller of the company
  • He became the CFO and EVP of Finance, until he was appointed as CEO in 2012
  • He has been in the role for eight years now, so that’s quite a while for someone to be CEO of an airline

As far as Minicucci’s career goes:

  • He first spent 14 years in the Canadian Armed Forces
  • In 1997 he started working at Air Canada, in the Technical Services department
  • In 2004 he joined Alaska Airlines as Staff VP of Maintenance and Engineering
  • In 2008 he was appointed COO, and between 2007 and 2009 he was Alaska’s VP of Seattle operations
  • In 2016 he was appointed President, in addition to his COO role

Bottom line

Alaska Airlines is well run, even if it’s not the most adventurous airline when it comes to trying new things. Alaska Airlines has done well under Tilden, and I’m sure that will continue under Minicucci.

If you were hoping for a new CEO who would greatly change things up (is flying to Eastern Russia or getting some 787s too much to ask for?) ;), then you’ll probably be disappointed. But I’d expect Minicucci to continue on the path that Tilden set.

What do you make of Alaska Airlines’ new CEO appointment?

Comments
  1. Most people want a stable, predictable, quality product. I am one of those persons.
    Alaska Airlines delivers quality on a consistent basis. They are one of the very best.

  2. It would be amazing if Alaska got 787s, but that doesn’t look likely with the pandemic. Plus, it is even harder to imagine Alaska getting them considering that American will be launching the London and Bangalore services from Seattle.

    Alaska will stay more profitable if it does not fly long routes.

    It would be nice if Alaska considered an East Coast Base, or even midwest, such as Columbus or Nashville or Austin just a thought since they are rapidly expanding cities.

  3. @Sharon +1

    I’d also love to see some West Coast-Caribbean flights with Alaska. Hopefully, they’ll be adventurous enough to try them at the very least, although it doesn’t seem likely. At the same time, if they want to be ok financially, they’re definitely going to have to rely more on leisure, non-Hawaii traffic given the stringent restrictions the islands have in place.

  4. When I first saw the headline first thought, please, don’t change. Former MVP, #1 fan of Alaska Airlines and the way they run business.
    Their Customer Service in particular is unparalleled in it’s own league. The representatives are seasoned, experienced, competent and above all human (Alaska Air has not given in to oversea call centers or robots).
    They are the only airline I trust to fly my dogs on. I love the planes (except Airbus that don’t have ability to transport pets). Just an awesome overall airline like no other.

  5. The best public companies are the ones that know their industry, know their place in it, and “stick to their knitting” so to speak. Alaska is one of those companies.

    I do wish Alaska (or JetBlue) would consider establishing a new hub in a potentially high revenue market such as MSP. Even before the pandemic Delta was pulling back significantly in the Twin Cities. It remains one of their most profitable hubs due to the large number of business travelers, Fortune 500 companies, and relatively high per capita income in the area. There’s room for another significant full service carrier.

  6. Still going to be an airline with no niche and a soon to be slashed ff program.
    They’ll merge with B6 in ~5 years. FF program will be slashed even more.

  7. Hard to stifle a yawn, but let’s see what happens.
    Alaska is a business which seems top heavy with EVPs, VPs, SVPs, JVPs etc etc, with a President sitting atop the pile. Are these people so insecure they need some meaningless puffed-up title to get through their day?

  8. Just an observation. I’ve seen many US companies where the CEO and the chairman/chairwoman of the board being the same person. Isn’t this a massive conflict of interest as the CEO is accountable to the BOD? In many countries, my own included, this is not allowed.

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