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    Alaska Air

Two years ago, Delta set up a hub in Alaska Air’s home base of Seattle for the first time—akin to declaring war. The swaggering arrival of an industry behemoth posed an imminent threat to the regional player. Instead, Alaska Air has taken off: Its stock price climbed 115% in the past two years and profits during the past 12 months were 60% higher than two years ago. Industry veterans credit Tilden, a company lifer who became CEO in 2012. “This is an airline I marked a couple of years back as being an endangered species,” says aviation consultant Jay Sorensen. “Instead the airline has come out of this stronger and better. Tilden is such a humble man and smart leader, and he has the kind of touch that makes an airline human.” Tilden flies coach, and on a 2013 flight after the hometown Seattle Seahawks had just won the Super Bowl, he got up and served passengers as a flight attendant.