Air New Zealand CEO Rob Fyfe has announced plans to resign at the end of 2012, ending a seven year tenure that has seen the carrier bounce back from rocky financial times and establish a reputation atop the airline industry.
“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,” Fyfe said in a statement. “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.”
Fyfe’s resignation will coincide with the end of his term as chairman of Star Alliance.
Air New Zealand chairman John Palmer hailed Fyfe’s work in restoring the airline’s profitability despite difficult economic times.
“The board respects that as a world class Chief Executive Officer, Rob wants to continue to challenge himself and explore new opportunities,” Palmer said. “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.”
Palmer said there was no fixed timetable for naming a replacement but indicated that a decision would likely be made within six months.
Fyfe said his management team had been working on a series of new initiatives that would be rolled out over the coming year.
“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,” he said. “It’s that spirit and attitude that will come to the fore again this year.”
US based industry journal Air Transport World named Air New Zealand as the world’s top airline this year, calling the carrier an “industry trendsetter” for its product innovation, use of social media and environmental initiatives. It was the second time in three year Air New Zealand won the award.