Alaska Airlines Names Constance von Muehlen as Its First Female COO

Sarah HallamPeople on the Move
Constance von Muehlen

Incoming Chief Operating Officer Constance von Muehlen will be the first female COO at the airline. Courtesy of Alaska Air Group.

Alaska Air Group announced Monday that Constance von Muehlen will take over as Chief Operating Officer of Alaska Airlines, effective April 3. She currently serves as SVP of Maintenance and Engineering and will be succeeding her current boss, EVP and COO Gary Beck, who is retiring.

Von Muehlen makes history by becoming the first female COO throughout the airline’s near 90-year history. Currently, 40% of the executive leadership team at Alaska Air Group are women.

Her promotion isn’t the only executive shakeup at the airline in recent months. In November, chairman and CEO Bradley Tilden announced he is retiring, with current president Ben Minicucci stepping into the role on March 31. Von Muehlen will report directly to Minicucci.

In her new role, von Muehlen will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of Alaska Airlines on both the ground and in the air. She will also serve as chair of the board at McGee Air Services, the airline’s ground service subsidiary.

As a Captain in the U.S. Army that flew Blackhawk helicopters, von Muehlen brings over 30 years of aviation experience to the COO role. She first joined the company in 2011 as Director of Engine Maintenance and following that worked as COO of the company’s regional airline, Horizon Air. She currently leads safety, compliance, and operational aspects of the airline’s mainline Boeing and Airbus fleet as SVP of Maintenance and Engineering.

In a company blog post, von Muehlen said that being the first female COO at Alaska Air Group is “super humbling” to her.

“My desire to represent women well is that much higher given the role I’ll serve because I want to make sure there is no doubt in anybody’s mind that all women are capable of this type of work and performance,” von Muehlen said in the post. “I’m also excited to bring a different perspective to the role and a new approach than what we’ve seen before. It will be my approach, which is formed and shaped by the fact that I am a woman and have spent 30 years in the traditionally male-dominated aviation industry.”

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