Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden to retire, Ben Minicucci named next leader

Nov 9, 2020

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Alaska Airlines president Ben Minicucci will be the airline’s next leader once CEO Brad Tilden steps aside next March.

Tilden will continue to chair the Seattle-based carrier’s board after he steps down as CEO on March 31, 2021, Alaska said Monday. He has led the airline since 2012 and worked at Alaska for 30 years.

The leadership transition is unlikely to have any immediate effect on Alaska travelers. Minicucci has worked as Tilden’s deputy since 2016 and in various roles at the carrier since 2004.

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Alaska Airlines president and incoming CEO Ben Minicucci (left) and retiring CEO Brad Tilden (right). (Image courtesy of Alaska Airlines)


Recovery from the coronavirus pandemic will be top of mind for Minicucci when he takes the reins at Alaska. Other on-going initiatives include navigating the airline’s new Oneworld membership that will be complete the day he moves into the corner office. In addition, he will be tasked with implementing Alaska’s new West Coast partnership with American Airlines and completing the retirement and replacement of the carrier’s Airbus A320 fleet.

“The way in which our employees have navigated through challenges is truly inspiring – and the last nine months is no exception,” Minicucci said in a statement. “I’m excited and optimistic about our future as we continue this journey together.”

Alaska has yet to name a replacement for Minicucci as president.

Related: Why Alaska Airlines can’t retire its Airbus A320s all at once

Alaska grew by leaps and bounds under Tilden’s leadership. The highlight is likely the 2016 acquisition of Virgin America that greatly expanded its presence in California and on U.S. transcontinental routes. Alaska grew more than 36% through the merger based on 2015 and 2017 schedules, according to Cirium data.

Minicucci had an instrumental role in the deal. He oversaw the integration of Virgin America as the carrier’s CEO after the acquisition closed in December 2016 until the airline was integrated into Alaska in 2018.

“Alaska is on a solid trajectory,” Tilden said in a statement. “Now is the time to position Alaska for future growth… 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.”

Related: Alaska Airlines sets new date for full Oneworld membership

Featured image by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.

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