Alaska Airlines CEO to speak at WWU business forum

The Bellingham Business Journal

William Ayer, chairman and chief executive officer of Alaska Airlines and the Alaska Air Group, will be the keynote speaker at the Ninth Annual Western Washington University Bellingham Business Forum on Thursday, March 18, at the Hotel Bellwether ballroom in Bellingham.

At Alaska Airlines, Ayer, 55, leads the nation’s ninth-largest airline, with more than 10,000 employees, 59 destinations served and more than 110 aircraft.

A 26-year veteran of the aviation industry, Ayer began his career with Alaska in 1995 as vice president of marketing and planning. Since then, he has held the posts of senior vice president of customer service, marketing and planning, president, and chief operating officer. In 2002, he became the company’s CEO, and in 2003, he was appointed chairman.

Prior to his tenure with Alaska, Ayer spent 13 years at Horizon Air, Alaska Air’s regional commuter airline, where he held a variety of marketing and operations positions of increasing responsibility. Immediately before joining Alaska, he was Horizon’s senior vice president of operations.

Before joining Horizon, Ayer founded and was president of Air Olympia, a commuter airline serving Washington state; he also served as a regional manager for Piper Aircraft Co.

Ayer is a member of the board of directors of the Seattle branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Puget Sound Energy, the Museum of Flight and Angel Flight West. He also serves on the advisory board for the University of Washington Business School.

A graduate of Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in economics, Ayer earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Washington. He holds commercial and flight instructor pilot certificates with instrument and multi-engine ratings.

Doors will open at 11:30 a.m. at the Hotel Bellwether ballroom, with lunch service beginning at noon; the keynote address will begin at 12:45 p.m.

Table sponsorships are available at the $500 Mount Constitution, $750 Mount Challenger, $1,000 Mount Shuksan, and $2,000 Mount Baker levels. The Mount Baker sponsorship establishes a named scholarship for a Whatcom County student attending Western next fall. Reservations can be made online here or by calling (360) 650-6825.

Tables at the forum are rounds of 10, and all sponsorship levels include a served lunch.  Sponsors fill nine seats and WWU fills the 10th seat with a university representative. Individual tickets are available for $50 each.

All proceeds from the event support student scholarships. For more information about scholarship support, call (360) 650-3612.

The Bellingham Business Forum is an annual opportunity for business and civic leaders to connect with friends of the university and to enjoy an address by a prominent business professional.

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