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Air New Zealand’s Luxon shifts professional gears

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September 1st 2019

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Christopher Luxon will bow out as Air New Zealand CEO later this month after leading the airline through one of its most successful periods in recent history. Read More »

But before his September 25 departure from the carrier, he warned changed times were ahead for Air New Zealand and global aviation.

Chairing his last results press conference on August 22, he said: “We are focused on ensuring Air New Zealand is fit for the newer growth environment,” inferring lower profits were ahead.

For the latest full fiscal year, Air New Zealand (Air NZ) reported earnings before tax of US$236.9 million, a 31% decline over the previous 12 months. Operating revenue grew by 5.3%, but growth was offset by a $121 million increase in fuel costs and a temporary escalation in operating expenditure as the airline “sought to improve network resiliency” caused by global Rolls-Royce engine issues.

The 51% government-owned airline expected full fleet and network reliability to be restored after the last of the Rolls-Royce engines, chosen to power the airline’s 787s, return to service.

Luxon, Orient Aviation’s 2014 Person of the Year, succeeded Rob Fyfe as CEO in January 2013.

He has always fostered innovation and diversity, including going outside the airline business, to the Disney Group, to benchmark higher standards of service at the carrier.

He also is a member of a tiny airline CEO club that boasts a board that is 40% female.

Recently, Luxon decided to employ staff with visible tattoos, “a big and difficult decision”, he said.

“There are 200 commercial airlines in the world and not a single airline allows their employees visible tattoos. We are now trailblazing and leading there,” he said.

Luxon confirmed to Orient Aviation at press time that he would take a break in the antipodean summer “to think very clearly and intentionally about what I want to do next”. His reported inclinations include working in the not-for-profit sector, moving overseas if he decides to continue in business or a career in politics.

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