Alaska Airlines president talks about outlook

The view from the corner office at Alaska Airlines headquarters is serene: a forest dappled with beams of sunshine and a sliver of a deep blue lake peeking through in the distance.

But Brad Tilden's first six months on the job in that office as Alaska Airlines president have hardly been so calm.

The former Alaska chief financial officer and private pilot has spent much of his time navigating the airline around storm cells: the economic downturn, the swine flu travel crisis in Mexico, cutthroat competition on the West Coast, the collapse of the credit markets and the volatility on Wall Street.

That abrupt change in the economic climate has cut Alaska's passenger traffic, forced ticket price reductions and sent the airline's stock on a roller-coaster ride.

But Tilden, an 18-year veteran of the often-turbulent airline industry, prefers to consider the positives of his half-year reign as president: the second consecutive J.D. Power award for the best customer satisfaction of a network airline, the signing of a new contract with the airline's pilots, top-of-the-chart on-time performance this spring and the redeployment of some of the airline's fleet from the depressed markets in California, Nevada and Arizona into new markets in Atlanta, Houston, Austin and Hawaii.

The News Tribune recently talked with Tilden about the airline's outlook.

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