Alaska Air CEO to retire

Bill Ayer speaks at Seattle University (Courtesy Joseph Taylor/ Seattle University)

Bill Ayer, the chairman and CEO of Seattle-based Alaska Air Group, will retire, the company announced Thursday.

Ayer, 57, has been with the company, which operates Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, for the last 30 years. He has been at the helm in the CEO position for the last 10 years.

Brad Tilden, President of Alaska Airlines since 2008, will take over for Ayer.

Ayer will stay with the air group as chairman of the board when Tilden takes over May 15.

"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."

Tilden received his BA from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma and his MBA in business administration from UW.

Alaska Air Group serves 90 cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico.