A Wings Airways floatplane takes off from Juneau’s downtown harbor as the Norwegian Bliss leaves its port of call on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

A Wings Airways floatplane takes off from Juneau’s downtown harbor as the Norwegian Bliss leaves its port of call on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Wings Airways gets new investors, owners

Former Alaska Airlines executive now at the helm

Wings Airways is flying into a new era, with two former Alaska Airlines executives and others now at the controls.

Joe Sprague, formerly of Alaska Airlines, will become CEO of Wings Airways effective April 29, according to a release from Wings on Friday. Alongside Sprague in the new ownership group are: Bill Ayer, a former Alaska Airlines chairman and CEO; the Binkley family, longtime entrepreneurs in Alaska’s visitor agency and owners of the Anchorage Daily News among other endeavors; Bob Jacobsen, the founder of Wings’ predecessor company Wings of Alaska; current Wings leaders and shareholders President Holly Johnson, Michelle Johnson and Don Bach.

“We are tremendously excited about the blending of seasoned Wings team members with new leaders that have such extensive visitor industry and aviation backgrounds,” Holly Johnson, who has been the president since 2009 and will continue in that role, said in the release. “It is a team well positioned to lead Wings into its next chapter.”

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Wings Airways evolved from Wings of Alaska, an airline serving Southeast Alaska that was first formed in 1982. Wings Airways became a standalone operation in 2002, and employs more than 50 people during the summer season.

Sprague spent 17 years with Alaska Airlines where he most recently served as senior vice president of external relations. Since 2017, he has worked for the Washington State Catholic Conference.

Sprague actually got his aviation career started with Wings of Alaska 32 years ago as a customer service agent, and said he’s elated to come back to Juneau.

“Being able to work with the Wings team to build on a foundation of success, while working closely with local Juneau and visitor industry stakeholders, is an amazing opportunity,” Sprague said in the release.

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.

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