Air NZ chief executive wants expansion
Tue, 19 Jun 2012 6:32p.m.
By Adam Hollingworth
Air New Zealand has presented its new man at the controls.
Christopher Luxon came back from 20 years overseas to join the airline last year. He'll take over from Rob Fyfe in six months.
Mr Luxon used to sell shampoo to the world for consumer goods giants Unilever. Now he's back home for a potentially more hair-raising time in the Air New Zealand hot seat.
“The impact that this company can have on our country and our community is immense – economically, socially and emotionally,” he says. I think that for me is incredibly inspiring as I look on taking on this new role.”
Mr Luxon was born in Christchurch and studied there. On graduation, he joined Unilever and ended up running its Canada operation.
But last year he returned to take charge of Air New Zealand's international operations, then beat internal and external candidates to the top job.
But he'll be under the wing of current boss Rob Fyfe for the next six months.
Air New Zealand shed more than 400 jobs last year, but Mr Luxon will focus on expansion.
“For an airline to have made a profit for 10 years in a row is no mean achievement. To have navigated the global financial crisis as we have and to be actually on the cusp of what I see is a really fantastic period of growth and profit is really a fantastic achievement.”
Despite high fuel costs, there's plenty to encourage Mr Luxon: the Asian middle class is growing and America's recovery offers new destinations.
Some industry insiders have been suggesting Houston after United-Continental scrapped plans for an Auckland-Houston route.
“I'm not going to comment on the specific routes, but suffice to say our business there has been extremely well actually over the past 12 months. I think the macro-economic recovery in America is strong.”
The markets have reacted to the appointment with cautious optimism. Air New Zealand shares closed up half a cent.
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