SEATTLE (AP) — The CEO of Alaska Air Group Inc., which runs Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, is retiring on May 15.

The Seattle company said Thursday that Bill Ayer, who has been at Alaska for 30 years and CEO for a decade, will be replaced by Alaska Airlines president Brad Tilden. Tilden, 51, joined Alaska Airlines in 1991. He was promoted to his current role in 2008. He will keep that role when he becomes CEO.

Ayer, 57, will remain chairman of the Air Group’s board. He will also join a committee of industry leaders who are working with the FAA to modernize the nation’s air traffic control system.

Alaska is the nation’s seventh-largest airline. It has 9,500 employees and a fleet of 119 aircraft.

Separately on Thursday, Alaska Air said that its board approved a two-for-one stock split and a $50 million stock buyback program.

Shares rose 82 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $75.57 in morning trading.

— Copyright 2012 The Associated Press


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