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Air New Zealand announces inaugural sustainability chief

written by Hannah Dowling | June 8, 2022

An Air New Zealand 787-9, ZK-NZG, which regularly flies between Melbourne and Auckland. (Victor Pody)
An Air New Zealand 787-9, ZK-NZG, which regularly flies between Melbourne and Auckland. (Victor Pody)

Air New Zealand has appointed Kiri Hannifin as its inaugural chief sustainability officer, the latest in a slew of sustainability-led moves.

According to the airline, Hannifin has spent the last five years leading the charge on sustainability in her current role as director of corporate affairs and sustainability at Countdown and will join Air New Zealand on 5 December.

Last year, Air New Zealand agreed to back the New Zealand government’s mandate to reduce carbon emissions in the transport sector, bolstered its dedicated sustainability panel, and introduced eco-serviceware in its international economy cabins to reduce single-use plastics.

The company said the newly created executive position has been made in recognition of the importance of a sustainable focus “across all aspects of the company’s operation”.

Air New Zealand chief executive officer Greg Foran labelled sustainability as the “biggest issue” facing the airline, which requires dedicated focus from a single leader.


“As we rebuild Air New Zealand, we need to advance the extensive work already undertaken to become a truly sustainable airline,” he said.

“Kiri’s experience in driving change across the supply chain, engaging customers via tangible measures such as removing plastic bags from stores and diverting food waste from landfill will help our efforts move to a new level.”

Australian rival Qantas appointed its own inaugural chief sustainability officer, Andrew Parker, in August 2021, and has recently set targets to reduce net carbon emissions by 25 per cent by 2030 and hit net zero emissions by 2050.

Meanwhile, in December, Air New Zealand revealed a new initiative to support the development and introduction of zero-emissions aircraft into its fleet within the next five years.

The airline published a Product Requirements Document (PRD) as a guide for traditional planemakers, as well as innovative start-ups alike to try their hand at creating a zero-emission aviation solution that aligns with Air New Zealand’s goals.

The initiative joins a number of others by the airline, including a partnership with the New Zealand government for the use of sustainable aviation fuel, and with Airbus on its zero-emissions aircraft development.

The airline aims to achieve its goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

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