LEADERSHIP SPOTLIGHT - BEN MINICUCCI, PRESIDENT & CEO, ALASKA AIRLINES
Ben Minicucci serves as chief executive officer of Alaska Air Group, the parent company of Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air. The combined airlines carry over 45 million guests a year on 1,300 daily flights to 115 destinations throughout the United States and to Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica.
Under the leadership of Ben and his team, Alaska is focused on low fares, profitable growth of the route network, and creating an airline people love.
During Ben’s 17-year career with Alaska, he has contributed in various roles of increasing responsibility, becoming CEO on March 31, 2021.
In 2016, he was promoted to president of Alaska Airlines, and was also named CEO of Virgin America upon Alaska’s acquisition of the airline in December 2016 until the airlines merged under a single operating certificate in January 2018. He oversaw the integration of Alaska and Virgin America’s operations, processes and work groups. As president of Alaska, Ben was responsible for both operations and commercial functions. He led the execution of the company’s strategic plan including a focus on Alaska’s network, flight schedule, sales, revenue management, safety and operations, marketing and real estate.
In 2009, he was promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer. During this time, he directed the implementation of a customer service-guiding framework, which empowers employees to deliver personal and kind-hearted experiences to guests, recognizing their unique circumstances instead of being bound by rigid company policies.
In 2007, Ben was named vice president of Seattle operations. He implemented an operational management process called the turn timeline which dramatically increased Alaska’s on-time performance and reliability.
Ben joined Alaska in 2004 as staff vice president of maintenance.
Before joining Alaska, Ben spent seven years serving in a variety of roles at Air Canada’s technical operations and, ultimately, vice president of heavy maintenance. He served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 14 years prior to joining the private aviation sector.
Ben holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Royal Military College of Canada. He’s currently on the board of directors for Alaska Air Group, Washington Roundtable, and the University of Washington Michael G. Foster School of Business Center for Leadership & Strategic Thinking.
“At Alaska, I know I’ve got everyone counting on me to make sure we guide this airline through whatever is ahead. I have the responsibility, along with 23,000 people, to build on the fantastic legacy of this company.” – Ben Minicucci, Alaska Airlines CEO and President
What is unique about Alaska that you will protect and grow as CEO?
Our company has always had strong values around safety and around people. When we merged with Virgin America, we rewrote our values to really reflect who we are: “Own safety. Be kind-hearted. Do the right thing. Deliver performance. Be remarkable.” and our purpose: “Creating an airline people love.” It was a fun exercise to lead but it was also challenging to get a bunch of people aligned on what was at the root of our success. We aligned on these five values, which encompass everything to me that characterizes our success.
How is Alaska’s alliance with oneworld a game-changer for its guests?
I can’t tell you how excited I am about oneworld. One of my aspirations is to get Alaska on the national map – to be viewed not simply as a regional airline. What oneworld does is open the world to our airline and customers. I’ll use Seattle as an example: We have a massive domestic network in Seattle. And when you add our oneworld partners, we’ll add at least seven international destinations out of Seattle. For loyal customers of Alaska, they can accrue miles on Alaska and redeem them on British Airways, Qantas, Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, among others. The ability to redeem and accrue miles, and access the 650 worldwide lounges in the alliance, wherever an Alaska customer is, make their Mileage Plan benefits go so much further.
We also have an alliance with American Airlines, the West Coast International Alliance, where our customers can access American’s international and domestic network across the country. All of this is huge in terms of accessibility and benefits, priority bags and priority boarding, so it’s a really exciting springboard for growth.
What do you want people to think of when they hear “Alaska Airlines”?
I want people to smile at the thought of Alaska Airlines and say, “Alaska’s a great company.” Not just because we’re a great airline, but also for what we stand for. Whether it’s racial equity, the environment, how we treat our people or how we treat our customers and run the business—it’s all done with the utmost integrity and through our values.
And when I say I want Alaska to be on the national map, it means I want people to say, “I wish they flew everywhere. I want them to fly everywhere so I can fly them all the time.”
About Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines and our regional partners serve more than 120 destinations across the United States, Belize, Canada, Costa Rica and Mexico.
From the beginning, we’ve known what matters most: keeping our guests and each other safe, doing what’s right, creating meaningful connections and daring to care when others haven’t.
We always want your trip to be the good kind of memorable—from planning to landing, and everything in between. That means providing low fares, award-winning customer service and offering more nonstop flights from the West Coast than any other airline, while also making it easy to join the most generous loyalty program in the skies. It means keeping our earth healthy through sustainable practices and employing the kind of people who go the extra mile for every single guest. Every single day.
Care is reflected in everything we do, and we hope you see it for yourself.
Alaska is a member of the oneworld global alliance. With the alliance and our additional airline partners, guests can travel to more than 1,000 destinations on more than 20 airlines while earning and redeeming miles on flights to locations around the world. Reducing our environmental impact to protect the beautiful places in which we live, and fly, is part of our DNA. We were the first airline to compost and remove single-use plastic straws and citrus picks from planes and our lounges and have been champions of sustainable aviation biofuels since 2011.
With roots tracing back to 1932, we were founded when Linious “Mac” McGee of McGee Airways started flying his three-seat Stinson between Anchorage and Bristol Bay, Alaska. A merger with Star Air Service in 1934 created the largest airline in Alaska, which eventually became Alaska Airlines. In 2016, we brought together two of the country’s favorite airlines into a united force with the acquisition Virgin America (NASDAQ: VA). The combination expanded our service and added more frequent connections to international airline partners in thriving technology markets in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Seattle.
Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air are subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group (NYSE: ALK).
Find out more: alaskaair.com
This article appeared in World Biz Magazine's Q2, 2022 Issue