Alaska Air Group, the parent company of Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, Wednesday handed out bonuses to employees totaling more than five weeks' pay each.
The yearly bonus payments along with $1,150 in monthly bonus payments employees had received during 2013 totaled more than $105 million.
That's the highest total Alaska has distributed to its workers since 2003 when the incentive pay program began.
Nearly $51.3 million in annual bonuses — 62 percent of the total — was paid to about 6,400 Alaska and Horizon employees in the Puget Sound area. Another $11 million was paid to 2,026 employees in the Portland area, while $8.2 million went to workers throughout the state of Alaska.
"Our company's success wouldn't be possible without the award-winning customer service, industry-leading on-time performance and solid execution by our outstanding employees," Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden said. "On behalf of the leadership teams at Alaska and Horizon Air, I want to thank and congratulate our people for their terrific efforts."
Some Wall Street analysts have questioned the necessity of paying hefty rewards to employees, but Alaska executives said the airline's top-tier on-time performance, its high customer satisfaction ratings and its stellar financial performance are reflection of employees' initiative and hard work.
"Bonuses in Alaska Air Group's Performance Based Pay Plan are determined by meeting specific company-wide goals for safety, customer satisfaction, cost control and profit that are approved annually by the board of directors. Since the inception of the program in 2003, Alaska has paid employees $538 million in combined incentive-based pay and monthly bonuses, which is about 5.75 percent on average each year," the airline holding company said in a news release.