Seattle-based Alaska Air Group has announced it has advanced three key leaders to position Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air for future growth and success, the company said.
Ben Minicucci, as president of Alaska, will be responsible for all commercial and operational duties including rollout and execution of the company´s strategic plan; Gary Beck becomes Alaska´s executive vice president and chief operating officer; and Joe Sprague returns to Air Group in the role of president of Horizon. All appointments are effective immediately.
As president of Alaska, Minicucci is responsible for both operations and commercial functions, and will execute on the company´s strategic plan including a focus on Alaska´s network, flight schedule, sales, revenue management, safety and operations, marketing and real estate. He has served in various roles of increasing responsibility since joining Alaska in 2004 as staff vice president of maintenance. Minicucci was promoted to president and chief operating officer in 2016. Since 2017, he has led Alaska´s integration with Virgin America, which is nearly complete.
Beck returns to Alaska as executive vice president and chief operating officer, responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations on the ground and in the air. For the last two years, he has served as president and chief executive officer of Horizon, Alaska´s regional partner. Prior to that tenure, he was vice president of Alaska´s flight operations division from 2008 to 2015. Beck will report directly to Minicucci.
With Beck´s move back to Alaska, Joe Sprague has been elected the new president of Horizon. Sprague is an admired, highly capable veteran of Alaska Air Group who will continue the forward momentum for the airline. He will report directly to Tilden.
Under Minicucci´s leadership, Alaska aligned its operational and commercial groups in 2018 to better facilitate cross-divisional planning while keeping a focus on safety, reliability, profitability and a remarkable guest experience.
Before joining Alaska Airlines, Minicucci 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. He holds a bachelor´s and master´s degree in mechanical engineering from the Royal Military College of Canada. Minicucci is currently on the board of directors for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.
In his previous role at Alaska as vice president of flight operations, Beck oversaw 1,600 pilots, implemented sound operational processes and invested in game-changing technology that included iPads for pilots and a paperless flight deck. Before becoming the president and CEO at Horizon Air, he led a joint integration team working toward a single operating certificate during the acquisition process between Alaska and Virgin America.
Beck studied aerospace engineering at Central Texas College and business administration at Northern Illinois University. He´s a qualified pilot on multiple aircraft with more than 15,000 flight hours.
Sprague launched his career in aviation more than 30 years ago as a customer service agent for a commuter airline, where he later became a commercial pilot. He has also held leadership positions with a regional airline based in Anchorage, and managed commuter airline and air charter policy for a Washington, D.C.-based aviation trade association.
Alaska Airlines and its regional partners fly 46 million guests a year to more than 115 destinations with an average of 1,300 daily flights across the United States and to Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica.