Air New Zealand CEO stepping down, weighing career in politics

SINGAPORE/WELLINGTON • Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon is stepping down in September after seven years in the role, as one of the nation's most prominent businessmen considers a career in politics among his options.

"I would like to think more about how I can best use my skills, abilities and experience to make a further contribution to the success of New Zealand whether that be through corporate life, politics or a not-for-profit" role, Mr Luxon, 48, said in a statement yesterday.

He was roped in by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last year to lead an advisory council focused on improving business confidence and to help with reforming a slowing economy.

Local media reports have said Mr Luxon could consider a political career with the opposition National Party, although he has dismissed these claims.

Under Mr Luxon's leadership, Air New Zealand, which is 51 per cent government-owned, has produced consistent profits in recent years as it renewed its fleet with fuel-efficient planes and focused on routes in the Pacific Rim.

Air New Zealand said it had begun an international search for his replacement.

Mr Luxon will be in the role until Sept 25, and will then move to advising and supporting the new CEO, and incoming chairman Therese Walsh, the airline said.

The carrier has forecast it will report earnings before taxation of more than NZ$340 million (S$303 million) in the financial year ending this month, lower than its initial expectations due to higher oil prices, problems with Rolls-Royce engines and weaker demand.

The announcement on Mr Luxon's stepping down came after the stock market closed yesterday.

Air New Zealand's shares are down 12.6 per cent this year, compared to the 17 per cent rise of the broader market.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2019, with the headline 'Air New Zealand CEO stepping down, weighing career in politics'. Print Edition | Subscribe