Air New Zealand has appointed Christopher Luxon as its next Chief Executive Officer.
Chairman John Palmer said today Mr Luxon will take over from current Chief Executive Officer Rob Fyfe at the end of December.
Mr Luxon is presently Group General Manager International Airline and has held the role since joining Air New Zealand in May, 2011, following a successful career at Unilever in North America, Asia and Australia. His most recent role there was President and Chief Executive Officer of Unilever’s Canadian business.
Mr Palmer says Mr Luxon brings a wealth of international business experience to Air New Zealand and an exceptionally strong commercial and customer focus.
“Christopher has world class strategic, commercial, leadership and stakeholder management capabilities proven across multiple markets. These have been highly evident to the Air New Zealand Board in the year that he has been with the company and we have seen him affect positive commercial outcomes in our toughest operating division,” Mr Palmer says.
Mr Luxon says he feels exceptionally privileged to be given the opportunity to lead the world’s best airline and further build on its commercial success of the past decade.
“Rob Fyfe has done an incredible job transforming Air New Zealand and steering it through some of the most difficult trading conditions in modern history. I will take over an airline that has significant financial strength, some incredibly exciting commercial opportunities and 11,000 Air New Zealanders who are committed to being world class in everything they do,” Mr Luxon says.
Chief Executive Officer Rob Fyfe congratulated Mr Luxon on his appointment.
“Christopher thoroughly deserves to lead Air New Zealand into the next chapter of its history. He is a world class executive on every level and will challenge Air New Zealanders to lift the airline’s commercial and customer focus to an even higher level,” Mr Fyfe says.
Mr Palmer says the Board is delighted that it has been able to appoint an internal candidate to the role of Chief Executive Officer.
“We conducted an exhaustive international search for a new Chief Executive Officer and it gives the Board great heart that the succession process it had in place furnished strong internal candidates leading to this appointment.”
Mr Palmer says the Board and Mr Fyfe have in place a well planned transition period over the next six months to ensure a seamless transition. Mr Luxon will be able to use this time to get close to the parts of the business outside his current responsibilities and to access the key domestic and international aviation, investor and stakeholder relationships that are crucial to running a world class airline.
Christopher Luxon Background
Christopher Luxon joined Air New Zealand in May 2011 from Unilever where he was President and CEO of Unilever Canada since December 2008. In this role he was responsible for leading Unilever's US$1.4 billion business & 1,500 employees in Canada. Christopher led Unilever Canada on a major change programme that resulted in record growth, improved profitability and enhanced customer service.
In addition to his Canadian responsibilities, Christopher was a key member of the North American Leadership Team that directed Unilever's US$10 billion regional business and he also sat on Unilever's Americas Regional Operations Leadership Team. During 2011 he also led Unilever's US$4 billion Personal Care business in the United States.
Christopher was born in Christchurch in 1970 and is the eldest of three boys. His father was a sales executive for Johnson & Johnson and his mother a psycho-therapist counsellor. At the age of seven Christopher and his family moved to Auckland and settled in Howick. At the age of 15 he returned to Christchurch and completed his last years of High School before going on to attend Canterbury University to complete a Master in Commerce majoring in Business Administration. In his last year at Canterbury University, Christopher was recruited into the Unilever Management Trainee Program where recruits would rotate in 6-12 month cycles around all parts of the business.
His first management role with the company was as Brand Manager of Unilever’s detergent business in New Zealand. After two years Christopher relocated to Australia and spent five years in Sydney, where he was involved in various sales and marketing roles. In his last three years Christopher also led one of Unilever’s Asian Innovation Centres.
Christopher’s next career step with Unilever was at their Global Head Office in London as the Global Deodorants and Grooming Category Director for three years. This then led Christopher and his family to move to Chicago where he was Regional Category Vice President Deodorants and Grooming North America and then Toronto in his North America leadership roles.
Christopher joined Air New Zealand in May 2011 as Group General Manager International Airline.
Air New Zealand's International Airline carries approximately 1.6 million long haul passengers annually, has annual revenue of approximately $NZD 1.8 billion and employs more than 3,000 staff. The International Airline is the most significant tourism business in New Zealand carrying a third of all inbound visitors to New Zealand. Inbound visitors to New Zealand collectively generate foreign exchange earnings of $NZD 9.5 billion a year.
Mr Luxon is married to his wife Amanda and they have two children – William aged 12 and Olivia aged 10.
Note to editors:
Unilever is one of the world's largest multi-national and consumer packaged goods firms. It has annual sales of €46 billion and operates in 190 countries employing 171,000 people. Unilever Canada comprises of leading brands such as Flora, Hellmann's, Lipton, Streets, Ben & Jerry's, Dove, Rexona, Axe, Vaseline, Ponds, and Sunsilk.