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Air New Zealand COO named as Auckland’s new CEO

written by Hannah Dowling | October 6, 2021

Current Air New Zealand chief operating officer Carrie Hurihanganui has resigned from the airline to take up her new role as CEO of Auckland International Airport.

She is set to become Auckland Airport’s first female chief executive in its 55-year history, when she takes up her new role in early 2022.

Hurihanganui spent over two decades working at Air New Zealand, where she worked her way up from an international cabin crew member, through a number of senior roles, before being appointed COO in May 2020.

Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran thanked Hurihanganui for her service, noting her extensive career with the airline.

“Joining more than 22 years ago as an international cabin crew member and rising to lead over 6,000 people, Carrie has developed exceptional leadership skills and operational knowledge.

“It will be very sad to see her leave the company, but great to see her lead an organisation we work so closely with.”


Meanwhile, Auckland Airport Chair Patrick Strange said he is “delighted” to announce Hurihanganui’s appointment as the airport’s new chief executive.

“She is a highly regarded leader in aviation who joins Auckland Airport following one of the most challenging times in its history,” Auckland International Airport chairman Patrick Strange said.

“We are confident that her leadership, operational knowledge and focus on customer experience will ensure Auckland Airport’s strong recovery from the pandemic and return to growth as the emerging robust recovery in international aviation and travel reaches New Zealand.”

Hurihanganui takes over the role from outgoing CEO Adrian Littlewood who announced his intention to step down earlier this year, following nearly a decade of leading the airport.

Littlewood will finish in his role on 12 November, while Hurihanganui will commence as chief executive in the new year. Mary-Liz Tuck, Auckland Airport’s general manager corporate services, has been appointed as interim CEO.

“I would like to thank Adrian for his dedication and exceptional leadership over many years, during which time he has led a sustained period of growth and development and seen the company through the immense disruption of a global pandemic,” Strange said.

“He has done a great job for the airport and, through his wider leadership, for New Zealand. We wish him all the very best for the future.”

Speaking of her appointment, Hurihanganui said: “It’s a real honour to be named the next chief executive of Auckland Airport, a great New Zealand company that has a critical role to play in our country’s economy.

“I have a long history with the airport and I am very excited by the opportunities that lie ahead. I look forward to working closely with the board, the airport team and all of the airport’s partners as we continue to deliver for New Zealand and support the country’s recovery.”

Air New Zealand said the process is currently underway to appoint a new chief operating officer.

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