Alaska Air Group said on Thursday Alaska Airlines president Brad Tilden will take over as chief executive on May 15, replacing Bill Ayer, who is set to retire.
Tilden, 51, joined the airline from Price Waterhouse in 1991 and has served as the Alaska Air Group chief financial officer and executive vice president of planning and finance.
"He is a superb executive," said Ray Neidl, an aerospace analyst at Maxim Group. "He's grounded, responsible, promotes most of the positive culture that Alaska Airlines has with its employees and its customers. Yet, at the same time, he's a very financially oriented, bottom-line guy."
Neidl said the appointment represents no change to Alaska Air's culture or direction.
Ayer, 57, who had been at the company for about 30 years, has been CEO for 10 years and will remain chairman. Tilden will continue as president of Alaska Airlines.
Also on Thursday, the company declared a two-for-one stock split. The additional shares will be distributed on March 16 to shareholders of record on March 2.
The stock split will boost the company's outstanding shares from 35.5 million shares to about 71 million shares. Alaska Air Group also said it would buy up to USD$50 million of its common stock over the next year.