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Air New Zealand appoints acting CEO ahead of Luxon’s Sept departure

written by australianaviation.com.au | August 21, 2019

Air New Zealand is lifting its target for removing single-use plastics.
Air New Zealand is lifting its target for removing single-use plastics.

Air New Zealand says a permanent replacement for outgoing chief executive Christopher Luxon may not commence in the role until first quarter of 2020.

The airline announced on Wednesday chief financial officer Jeff McDowall would lead the company as acting chief executive once Luxon steps down on September 25 and until a permanent replacement was found.

Air New Zealand director Dame Therese Walsh, who is leading the search for Luxon’s successor, said in a statement that given the calibre of the candidates being considered, it was possible that the new chief executive would not start until the first quarter of 2020.

“The strength of our brand and our people has attracted strong interest from candidates within New Zealand and overseas,” Dame Therese said in a statement.

Global recruitment specialist Spencer Stuart is helping the airline with the search for a new chief executive.


Air New Zealand noted it has previously appointed an acting chief executive, when Rob McDonald took on the role on an interim basis after Sir Ralph Norris left the company and prior to Rob Fyfe starting the job.

Prior to his current role, McDowall has also been group general manager for corporate finance and group general manager for commercial. Air New Zealand said he was not a candidate for the chief executive’s position.

“We are fortunate to have a talented executive team who are united in their support of Jeff to lead them and the business as acting chief executive officer during this interim period,” Dame Therese said.

“Jeff has held senior management roles across the airline for more than a decade and is well known to investors, stakeholders and key partners, such as the travel trade and unions.”

A supplied image of Jeff McDowall. (Air New Zealand)
A supplied image of Jeff McDowall. (Air New Zealand)

Air New Zealand announced Luxon’s resignation as chief executive in June. The airline said at the time Luxon would leave the company following the annual general meeting on September 25 after seven years in the position.

Luxon said at the time he would “refresh and recharge, and then reflect” on his next career move after finishing at the airline.

“I would like to think more about how I can best use my skills, abilities and experience to make a further contribution to the success of New Zealand whether that be through corporate life, politics or a not for profit,” Luxon said.

Current chairman Tony Carter is also stepping down at the end of the Air New Zealand shareholders meeting, with Dame Therese named as his successor.

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Comments (3)

  • Rod Pickin


    I am confused? Mr McDowall is good enough to fill the role of A/CEO but ANZ say he is not a candidate for the actual position. Is that in ANZ’s opinion or McDowall’s. To me this is an incubator for instability.

  • Guy Thornycroft


    I think he is considered to be a “Safe Pair of Hands” rather than an energised and proactive leader. Well known, supported, experienced is all they need until they find someone wanting to move it forward, rather than hold it together. There should be few dramatic changes Mr McDowall has in mind, so it will work well.

  • J Hill


    I’m pleased to see that this very people-oriented organization will not be hindered long-term by leadership under a Finance expert. There are no beans to count without a strong, bold, energized, innovative Sales organization that is foremost Customer-centric.

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