Alaska Airlines joins forces with UP.Labs to launch Airline Venture Lab

Alaska Airlines and UP.Labs aim to launch startups to enhance network optimization and routing, aircraft maintenance, revenue management and more to transform the future of airlines.

WESTLAKE, TEXAS — At the UP.Summit, Alaska Airlines and UP.Labs, a first-of-its-kind venture lab unlocking the future of transportation and mobility, announced the establishment of the Airline Venture Lab, a partnership to build startups that solve core strategic challenges for Alaska Airlines and the future of aviation.

With a goal of launching the first startup in 2024, the new partnership will focus on identifying high value solutions that address some of the greatest areas of friction within aviation. These could address operational efficiency, guest experience or other angles in the business of travel. This is the third such corporate partnership for UP.Labs, following Porsche AG and an undisclosed large retailer.

Innovating with new technologies, to solve problems and better serve our guests, is in our DNA,” said Alaska CEO Ben Minicucci. “30 years ago, we pioneered the use of RNP technology, allowing us to fly more efficient flight paths and to serve communities safely and reliably in regions with challenging flight conditions. We were the first to sell tickets online, and to use the Flyways machine learning software to make flight paths even more efficient and sustainable in today’s crowded airspace. We know that sometimes our innovation comes from within our company, and sometimes it takes key partners to unlock. Today, we are excited to announce our work with one such partner: working with UP.Labs on new solutions that can address challenges facing our business and unlock progress for aviation as a whole.”

The announcement of this corporate partnership with UP.Labs builds on Alaska Airlines’ existing relationship with multi-strategy mobility investment firm UP.Partners. Alaska Airlines is already a limited partner in UP.Partners’ venture capital fund, UP.Ventures. This new partnership leverages UP.Partners’ unique ecosystem and exemplifies the mutual commitment both companies have toward advancing the future of transportation technology.

Joining the Airline Venture Lab as Senior Advisor and Investment Committee member is Sean Menke. Sean is currently executive chairman of Sabre and former CEO of Sabre, Frontier and Pinnacle Airlines. He also held executive roles with Air Canada and Hawaiian Airlines.

“I’m thrilled to have Alaska Airlines as UP.Labs’ newest corporate partner so we can advance how airlines operate,” said John Kuolt, Founder & CEO of UP.Labs. “Together we will launch innovative new businesses with the world’s best entrepreneurs to maximize the potential of the industry. On a personal note, my grandfather founded Horizon Air, which is still a core part of Alaska Airlines today, so I’m honored to have the opportunity to build upon the legacy my grandfather started.”

UP.Labs believes that partnering with leading corporations in the mobility space is the fastest way to make an impact on the transportation challenges our society faces. The company’s first corporate partnership with Porsche in the automotive space has led to the successful launch of Pull Systems, a software platform that manages and automates electric vehicle performance. As UP.Labs’ first airline partner, Alaska Airlines will help move mobility forward and bring aviation into its next era.

About Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines and its regional partners serve more than 120 destinations across the United States, Belize, Canada, Costa Rica and Mexico. The company strives to be the most caring airline with award-winning customer service and an industry-leading loyalty program. Alaska is a member of the oneworld global alliance. With the alliance and its additional airline partners, their guests can travel to more than 900 destinations on more than 20 airlines while earning and redeeming miles on flights to locations around the world. Learn more about Alaska at and follow @alaskaairnews for news and stories. Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air are subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group.

About UP.Partners

UP.Partners is Transforming the Moving World by building and investing in companies that move people and goods cleaner, faster, safer, and at lower cost — on the ground, in the air, on the sea, and in space. The multi-strategy firm achieves this goal through its unique and virtuous ecosystem encompassing UP.Ventures, UP.Labs, and UP.Summit. UP.Ventures invests in companies and technologies to enable the future of mobility, working with some of the world’s most innovative investors and entrepreneurs. With flagship launch partner Porsche, UP.Labs is a first-of-its-kind venture lab, partnering with the world’s largest corporations to identify the most pressing challenges that they, and broader society, face. The UP.Summit is an invitation-only experience co-hosted with Tom and Steuart Walton and Ross Perot Jr., in Bentonville, AR and Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX respectively, bringing together the world’s most innovative minds to rethink the future of transportation. For more information, visit or follow on Twitter @UpPartnersVC or LinkedIn.

About UP.Labs

UP.Labs is a first of its kind Venture Lab using a new venture model to solve core problems for the world’s most important corporations in the mobility world. By bringing together

world-class business leaders, investors and corporate partners, UP.Labs unlocks innovation for corporations who have the scale and resources but cannot do it on their own. Recognizing that transportation is the underlying fabric of society, UP.Labs utilizes these strategic partnerships to rapidly ideate, build and scale disruptive startups transforming the way we move people and goods to be cleaner, faster, and safer. To learn more visit

About UP.Summit

UP.Summit is an annual, invitation-only gathering of the world’s most innovative minds rethinking the future of transportation. Some of the most impactful investors, entrepreneurs, and leaders in policy, defense, transportation and mobility companies gather at the summit each year with the goal of moving people and goods in cleaner, faster, safer, and at lower-cost ways – on the ground, in the air, on the sea, and in space. UP.Summit was founded in 2017 and is jointly organized by UP.Partners, Tom and Steuart Walton, and Ross Perot Jr.