Air New Zealand names acting CEO, says earnings down
Air New Zealand has announced that the airline’s current chief financial officer, Jeff McDowall, will become acting CEO on 26 September when current CEO Christopher Luxon steps down. The airline said it was conducting a global search for a permanent replacement and said McDowall had ruled himself out as a candidate for the post.
The carrier also said it posted a 31 percent fall in annual net profit due to higher fuel prices and waning domestic demand. Net profit to the end of June was NZ$270 million (US$173 million), down from NZ$390 million a year earlier. The airline’s chairman, Tony Carter, who launched a review of the airline’s operations after a profit downgrade in January, described the result as “solid”.
“While we are disappointed that we did not meet the expectations we first set for ourselves at the start of the financial year, the fact is we are operating in a different demand environment than we were 12 months ago,” he said. The airline forecast growth of 7-8 percent in its long-haul operations, stimulated by new destinations Seoul and Chicago, as well additional capacity to Taipei and Singapore. “When we first saw signs that demand was slowing, we took immediate steps to review our network, fleet and cost base, to position the airline for success in a lower growth environment. While we have made progress, this work is still ongoing.
Carter too is stepping down from his role as chairman and will be replaced by Therese Walsh, who is currently a director and who also is leading the search for a new CEO.
Walsh says that given the calibre of the candidates being considered in the selection process it is possible that the new CEO will not start until the first quarter of 2020.
McDowall’s previous roles at Air New Zealand include group general manager corporate finance and group general manager commercial. Prior to Air New Zealand he worked across a variety of industries in Asia, the United States and the United Kingdom.