Board of Regents

William S. Ayer

William S. Ayer

Bill Ayer is the retired chairman of Alaska Air Group, the parent company of Alaska Airlines and its sister carrier, Horizon Air. Ayer, 59, served as CEO of Alaska Air Group and its subsidiaries from 2003 through May 2012.

A veteran of more than three decades in aviation, 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 carrier’s chief executive officer, and, in May 2003, he was appointed chairman.

Prior to his tenure with Alaska, Ayer spent 13 years at Horizon Air, where he held a variety of marketing and operations positions of increasing responsibility. Immediately prior to 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 serves on the University of Washington’s Board of Regents, and is immediate past chair of the UW Business School Advisory Board. He is also chairman of Puget Energy, vice chair of the Museum of Flight and serves on the Angel Flight West Foundation Board. He is a member of the NextGen Advisory Committee, a panel of aviation industry leaders who are working with the FAA to modernize the nation’s air traffic control system and improve airport and airspace efficiency.

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. He uses his private pilot skills to fly Angel Flight West patients to their medical treatments.

Ayer and his wife are residents of Bellevue, Wash., and have one daughter.

He is current Chair of the Board of Regents for 2014-15.

  • Appointed by Governor Christine Gregoire from January 17, 2012 to September 30, 2016
  • Confirmed by Senate on March 7, 2012