Rob Fyfe, who helped buffer Air New Zealand from a turbulent global airline industry during six years as chief executive, will leave at the end of 2012, clearing the way for a new head as the government prepares to sell down its controlling stake.
Fyfe’s departure on Dec. 31 coincides with the end of his term as chairman of the Star Alliance group of airlines and the completion of four years as a board member of the International Air Transport Association.
“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,” chairman John Palmer said in a statement. Fyfe’s replacement may be found in about six months, he said.
Palmer said Fyfe had ensured the airline “remained profitable despite the backdrop of turbulent economic times that have seen airlines lose billions globally.”
Fyfe was appointed in October 2005, taking the helm from corporate high flier Ralph Norris. The shares peaked above $16 in 1995 and had tumbled to around $1.10 by the time Fyfe was appointed. They fell 1.1 percent to 90 cents on the NZX today.
The government has flagged its three-quarters stake in the airline as among assets it plans to sell down over the next few years. It intends to retain a holding of just over 50 percent.