Longtime Alaska Air exec returns to lead Horizon unit

Former Alaska Airlines executive Gary Beck is the new CEO of Horizon Air. Constance von Muehlen, another Alaska Airlines executive, becomes Horizon’s COO. Separately, Alaska Air executive VP Andrew Harrison laid out a series of investments in the airline’s passenger amenities.

Former Alaska Air executive Gary Beck will come out of retirement to take over as CEO at its regional carrier Horizon Air, the company announced Wednesday.

Constance von Muehlen, another Alaska Airlines executive, was appointed Horizon’s chief operating officer.

Beck replaces Dave Campbell, who announced his resignation in December after a troubled year at Horizon.

Low pilot pay had created a pilot shortage so severe that Horizon had to cancel hundreds of flights. Its flight schedule was cut from an average of 360 flights per day a year ago to 295 flights per day last month.

Recruiting and training about 400 new pilots this year will have to be a priority for the new leadership. They’ll also oversee the resumption of deliveries of Embraer E175 regional jets for the airline, scheduled for March.

Beck was vice president of flight operations at Alaska Airlines from 2008 until June 2015. Responsible for ensuring a safe, reliable flight operation, he oversaw 1,600 pilots. Beck also developed the airline’s Greener Skies initiative— a satellite-based navigation program to make takeoffs and landings at Sea-Tac more fuel-efficient and quieter —and introduced new technology such as pilot iPads and a paperless flight deck

Last year, in retirement, he worked as consultant to Alaska Air on the project to get a single flight certificate for the airline with Virgin America, following the acquisition of that San Francisco-based carrier.

Brad Tilden, chief executive of Alaska Air Group, called Beck “a seasoned leader with a tremendous amount of fire in his belly.”

“I believe our Horizon Air colleagues will really enjoy working with him as he…

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