The way we travel is changing, none more so than the future of air travel. Washington Post Live gathers thought leaders, policymakers and industry officials to assess the technological innovations that will make future flying a new and more environmentally-friendly experience. As the world continues to reopen after the global pandemic, top aviation experts examine the financial impact the coronavirus has had on major airlines and the path forward as millions return to the friendly skies.

Highlights

Alaska Air has set an ambitious goal to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2040. CEO Ben Minicucci says getting a new fleet and focusing on efficiency are among the strategies the airline will use to meet its goal. “A new fleet is the first strategy. Operational efficiency is a big one for us. A culture of efficiency…In the next five years, we want to be the most fuel efficient airline in the country.” (Washington Post Live)
When asked about the uptick in unruly airline customers, Alaska Air Group CEO Ben Minicucci says he understands that some passengers don’t want to wear masks, but he adds it’s a federal mandate that airlines have to enforce. “Who wants to wear a mask for 6 or 7 hours on a flight? I totally get that. The ‘but’ on that is it’s federal law…I think over the last 15 months we’ve probably banned 3-to-400 customers from our flights because they refuse to comply.” (Washington Post Live)
Neste US President Jeremy Baines says the only solution on the table today for combatting the contributions the airline industry makes to climate change is sustainable aviation fuel. “The root cause of climate change..is the burning of fossil fuels…The only solution on the table today is sustainable aviation fuel.” (Washington Post Live)

Ben Minicucci

Provided by Alaska Air Group.

Ben Minicucci serves as chief executive officer of Alaska Air Group, the parent company of Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air. The combined airlines carry over 45 million guests a year on 1,300 daily flights to 115 destinations throughout the United States and to Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica.

Under the leadership of Ben and his team, Alaska is focused on low fares, profitable growth of the route network, and creating an airline people love.

During Ben's 17-year career with Alaska, he has contributed in various roles of increasing responsibility, becoming CEO on March 31, 2021.

In 2016, he was promoted to president of Alaska Airlines, and was also named CEO of Virgin America upon Alaska's acquisition of the airline in December 2016 until the airlines merged under a single operating certificate in January 2018. He oversaw the integration of Alaska and Virgin America’s operations, processes and work groups. As president of Alaska, Ben was responsible for both operations and commercial functions. He led the execution of the company’s strategic plan including a focus on Alaska’s network, flight schedule, sales, revenue management, safety and operations, marketing and real estate.

In 2009, he was promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer. During this time, he directed the implementation of a customer service-guiding framework, which empowers employees to deliver personal and kind-hearted experiences to guests, recognizing their unique circumstances instead of being bound by rigid company policies.

In 2007, Ben was named vice president of Seattle operations. He implemented an operational management process called the turn timeline which dramatically increased Alaska’s on-time performance and reliability.

Ben joined Alaska in 2004 as staff vice president of maintenance.

Before joining Alaska, Ben spent seven years serving in a variety of roles at Air Canada’s technical operations and, ultimately, vice president of heavy maintenance. He served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 14 years prior to joining the private aviation sector.

Ben holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Royal Military College of Canada. He’s currently on the board of directors for Alaska Air Group and the University of Washington Michael G. Foster School of Business Center for Leadership & Strategic Thinking.

Jeremy Baines

Provided by Neste US.

Jeremy Baines is President of Neste US. He has a BS in Economics from City University, London, UK and has over 15 years of commercial and leadership experience with Neste in Geneva, London, and Brussels. He relocated to Houston, Texas in August 2016 with his wife and two children.

As an experienced renewables leader with an approach that combines business development, technology commercialization, and advocacy, Jeremy is focused on leading change and driving growth. Through experience and study, he has developed extensive knowledge of renewable fuel capabilities, emerging trends, and realities. With a vision and a track record of growth, he seeks to bring this transformative fuel technology into markets throughout the United States – from scale, to partnerships, to implementation.

He is excited to supply low-carbon drop-in Neste MY Renewable Diesel to the California and Oregon markets with Neste’s distributor partners. Jeremy is a regular and experienced speaker at many conferences.

Content from GE: Fueling the Future of Aviation

The following content is produced and paid for by a Washington Post Live event sponsor. The Washington Post newsroom is not involved in the production of this content.

GE Aviation’s jet engines and flight technology power two-thirds of all commercial departures around the world. As the aviation industry increasingly returns to normal, GE Aviation is already hard at work innovating new solutions to help ensure a safer, more sustainable future of flight. From cutting edge materials and fuels to new methods of manufacturing and even a revolutionary look at the future of jet engines themselves, GE Aviation is building on its more than 100 years of experience to shape the future. (Washington Post Live)

GE Aviation’s jet engines and flight technology power two-thirds of all commercial departures around the world. As the aviation industry increasingly returns to normal, GE Aviation is already hard at work innovating new solutions to help ensure a safer, more sustainable future of flight.

From cutting edge materials and fuels to new methods of manufacturing and even a revolutionary look at the future of jet engines themselves, GE Aviation is building on its more than 100 years of experience to shape the future.

Join GE Aviation CEO John Slattery as he discusses what that future will look like and what the industry and government must do to ensure we get there.

John S. Slattery

Provided by GE.

John is President & CEO of GE Aviation, the world’s leading provider of jet and turboprop engines and aircraft systems. Prior to joining GE, John served as President & CEO of Embraer Commercial Aviation. Before Embraer, John spent fifteen years in various executive roles at leading commercial aerospace advisory, leasing, and banking organizations. John is a Fellow at The Royal Aeronautical Society, President Emeritus of The Wings Club Foundation and Director Emeritus of ORBIS International. John is an ExCom member of the board of directors of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA). An Advanced Management Program (AMP) graduate of Harvard Business School, John was awarded an MBA from the University of Limerick and remains active at UL’s Kemmy Business School as an adjunct professor.

Jeanne Meserve

Jeanne Meserve is a homeland security expert and analyst, moderator, and award-winning journalist. She is currently a Security Expert for Canada’s CTV News and co-host of the SpyTalk podcast. While a correspondent and anchor at CNN and ABC Jeanne earned her profession’s highest honors, including two Emmys and an Edward R. Murrow Award. She also contributed to two CNN Peabody Awards.

Jeanne is a member of the Homeland Security Experts Group and the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity, and serves on the board of the non-profit Space Foundation.

She moderates discussions on topics ranging from technology and security, to medicine and the environment. Her clients include AtlanticLIVE, Washington Post Live, the Munich Security Conference, the Halifax International Security Forum, and the global conferences of the International Women’s Forum.

At CNN Meserve created the homeland security beat, covering intelligence, law enforcement, cyber, aviation, border and port security. She anchored worldwide coverage of the Yitzhak Rabin assassination and the death of Princess Diana, and was the first to report on the devastating flooding in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. She was a key member of the CNN political team during the 1996 and 2000 elections. While at ABC News she covered the State Department and reported from the Middle East, Asia and Europe.