A financially sound, operationally strong and well managed Air New Zealand is confident of a seamless transition to new leadership following the decision by the Managing Director and Chief Executive, Mr Ralph Norris, to leave the airline.

Mr Norris has accepted the position of Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

The Board of Air New Zealand respects Mr Norris' desire to take up the challenge of leading one of Australia's largest public companies, and wishes to place on record its appreciation of the major contribution he has made to the repositioning of the nation's airline.

Mr Norris has been an outstanding leader of Air New Zealand and been integral to the airline's rapid recovery over the past three years.

He leaves the airline at a time when it is financially sound, has exciting and achievable corporate strategies for its short-haul and long-haul services, and a first class management team that is well down the track of modernising every aspect of the company's business operations.

Given the strength of the management team that has been built up at Air New Zealand under Mr Norris' tenure, and the advanced state of implementation of the airline's strategic repositioning, the board expects a seamless transition to a new CEO.

A search and evaluation process for the new CEO will begin almost immediately.

Air New Zealand's financial position has never been stronger, with good liquidity and one of the best balance sheets in the industry.

Internationally, Air New Zealand is recognised as one of the recent success stories of the airline industry. The decision by the Commonwealth Bank to appoint Mr Norris to the position of CEO can be seen as a compliment to Mr Norris' qualities, a recognition of what Air New Zealand has achieved, and acknowledgement of the airline's international standing.

In addition to new operational strategies, under Mr Norris' leadership the airline has selected new aircraft, committed to a new corporate headquarters building, upgraded its information technology, increased direct sales through the internet twenty fold, installed self service kiosks and revamped its customer loyalty programme.

Now is an appropriate time for the company to be seeking a new CEO to drive the business in what continues to be a very challenging and highly competitive environment.

Mr Norris will leave Air New Zealand with the board's best wishes for his new challenges in Australia, and thanks for a superbly completed job at Air New Zealand.

Mr Norris has a six-month notice provision in his contract. However, his actual departure date is yet to be determined.


Ends

Issued by Air New Zealand Public Affairs: Mike Tod - 021 747 582

NOTE: The content of all Air New Zealand media releases are accurate at the time of issue, as stated at the top of each release. For updates on any changes, please contact Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand is proud to be a member of Star Alliance. The Star Alliance network was established in 1997 as the first truly global airline alliance to offer worldwide reach, recognition and seamless service to the international traveller. Its acceptance by the market has been recognised by numerous awards, including the Air Transport World Market Leadership Award, Best Airline Alliance by both Business Traveller Magazine and Skytrax. The member airlines are: Adria Airways, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Blue1, bmi, Continental Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EGYPTAIR, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Spanair, SWISS, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, THAI, United and US Airways. Aegean Airlines, Air India, Brussels Airlines and TAM have been announced as future members. Overall, the Star Alliance network offers 19,500 daily flights to 1,071 airports in 171 countries.

For more information about Air New Zealand visit www.airnewzealand.com and for more information about Star Alliance visit www.staralliance.com.