Chairman John Palmer says Chief Executive Officer Rob Fyfe this morning confirmed this will be his last year at the helm of the national carrier.

“Rob has been - and continues to be - an outstanding Chief Executive Officer with the full support of the Air New Zealand Board. He has ensured that Air New Zealand has remained profitable despite the backdrop of turbulent economic times that have seen airlines lose billions globally. Alongside this Air New Zealand’s innovations, high customer satisfaction ratings and culture have become the envy of airlines around the world. Rob’s leadership skills have also been acknowledged internationally with his current chairmanship of the Star Alliance and his continuing role as a member of the IATA Board,” Mr Palmer says.

“When appointed to the role of Chief Executive Officer, Rob gave a commitment to the Board that he would remain until 2012. The Board respects that as a world class Chief Executive Officer Rob wants to continue to challenge himself and explore new opportunities. He has also been clear with the Board that he did not want to become a road block to the career aspirations of the executive management team and the decision to leave at the end of this year will create an opportunity for growth and renewal within that team at Air New Zealand,” Mr Palmer says.

“We would expect significant international interest in the role and believe there are some very strong candidates from within Air New Zealand’s existing executive management team. There is no fixed time for when the decision will be made on the appointment of Air New Zealand’s next Chief Executive Officer but a normal period would be roughly six months.”

Mr Fyfe says his decision to leave Air New Zealand on 31 December 2012 coincides with the end of his term as Chairman of Star Alliance and will also see him complete four years as a Board member of the International Air Transport Association.

“After almost a decade at Air New Zealand, I am an Air New Zealander to the core and I live and breathe Air New Zealand every day. At the same time I’m very conscious that I am surrounded by many very talented and capable executives and if they are to grow and realise their full potential I have to create the space to allow them to do so,” he says.

“When I was appointed to the role of Chief Executive Officer back in 2005, Air New Zealand faced some extremely significant challenges as we set about reinvesting in our business, enhancing our competitiveness and regaining our world-class reputation. While many of the challenges were evident at the outset, many unexpected hurdles also emerged. That is the nature of the aviation industry, and I continue to be proud of how Air New Zealanders rally around to support each other during difficult times.

“I committed to the Air New Zealand Board that I would not look to leave until I was confident that I had a strong team around me and the Board was in a position to attract significant interest from global candidates alongside very strong internal candidates for the role of Chief Executive Officer. I also committed that I would not leave until the airline had a world class reputation, a strong balance sheet and a clear strategy for the future. I will be working hard as Chief Executive Officer for the remainder of the year to deliver on this commitment and to improve the financial performance of the business. I am not prepared to see the tough global economic environment used as an excuse for falling short of the return we should be delivering shareholders. I want to leave Air New Zealand with the confidence that we have the pathway to sustainable strong growth to support the New Zealand economy.”

Mr Fyfe says the executive management team has been working on a suite of initiatives to seize some exciting new opportunities and address the challenges Air New Zealand faces.

“Underpinning Air New Zealand’s success over the past decade has been having the confidence to run against the tide and move nimbly to make key decisions to shape the business for the future. It’s that spirit and attitude that will come to the fore again this year.”


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Issued by Air New Zealand Public Affairs ph +64 21 747 320