Ben Minicucci To Become New Alaska Airlines CEO In March

Today, Alaska Airlines has announced that current President Ben Minicucci will succeed Brad Tilden as group CEO. Minicucci will take over the role starting March 31st, 2021, with Tilden moving to a new role as the board’s chair. Tilden has been CEO since 2012.

Alaska Airlines new CEO
Alaska Airlines will have a new CEO from March 31st after three years of planning the change. Photo: Alaska Airlines

Three years of planning

After 30 years at Alaska Airlines, Brad Tilden is retiring in 2021. Tilden joined the company in 1991 at the PricewaterhouseCoopers division. He rose to become the group’s Chief financial officer in 2000. He was then named executive vice president–planning and finance in 2007, moving to become president a year later. Now, after three years of planning his retirement, he’s letting current president Ben Minicucci take on the CEO role.

In a statement, Tilden commented, “We’ve been working on this for years to be as seamless a transition as possible. Ben’s ready, Alaska is ready, and I’m ready. I feel extremely fortunate to work for this wonderful company I love all these years. But we’ve got a lot of work to do to get all the way through this Covid crisis, and I’ll be involved in that as chair of the board.”

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The new CEO

Stepping into the role as CEO of the group, which is the parent of both Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, is Ben Minicucci. Minicucci has been with the Alaska group for 16 years since joining in 2004. Since joining, Minicucci has had several roles, including CEO of Virgin American, when it joined the group and executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Alaska Airlines new CEO
Brad Tilden (right) will retire as CEO on March 31, 2021, and Ben Minicucci (left), president of Alaska Airlines, will succeed him. Photo: Alaska Airlines

Of his new role, Minicucci said, “I am honored and humbled by this incredible opportunity, and profoundly grateful for Brad’s leadership and partnership.” He continued to say, “I’m excited and optimistic about our future as we continue this journey together.”

The future of Alaska

Like all airlines, Alaska Airlines has faced a challenging few months. But Minicucci is confident that the airline is on the right track and heading for recovery. The airline is still burning through cash reserves at around $4 million per day. Its third-quarter results saw a $399 million loss. But despite still seeing such negative numbers, the airline is positioning for the future.

Alaska Airlines oneworld membership
Alaska Airlines is set to join oneworld on March 31st, the same day that Brad Tilden will retire. Photo: Alaska Airlines

As well as a new CEO, Alaska is preparing for a new, updated fleet. Over the next three years, around 42 leases on older Airbus models will expire, giving the airline the chance to update newer, more efficient aircraft. A fleet shakeup seems to be on the cards over the coming few years, something other airlines are reluctant to do considering the considerable cash it would take.

Furthermore, the day Ben Minicucci becomes CEO of Alaska is the same day the airline will join the oneworld alliance. The partnership will be crucial for long-term recovery. The deeper cooperation with other oneworld members will make Alaska even more attractive to passengers. This is important at a time when increasing passenger numbers is vital.

What do you think of the change at the Alaska Airlines group? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.