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Fyfe confirms he's quitting Air NZ

Larger-than-life Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe has confirmed he will be leaving the airline at the end of the year after seven years at its helm.

Larger-than-life Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe has confirmed he will be leaving the airline at the end of the year after seven years at its helm.

Rob FyfeFyfe said his decision to leave Air New Zealand on December 31 coincides with the end of his term as chairman of Star Alliance and four years as a board member of the International Air Transport Association.

“After almost a decade at Air New Zealand, I am an Air New Zealander to the core and I live and breathe Air New Zealand every day. At the same time I’m very conscious that I am surrounded by many very talented and capable executives and if they are to grow and realise their full potential I have to create the space to allow them to do so,” he said.

He said that when appointed to the role of chief executive officer back in 2005, Air New Zealand was facing "extremely significant challenges" and he had committed to staying until the airline had a world-class reputation, strong balance sheet and a strategy for the future.

Air New Zealand chairman John Palmer said it expected significant international interest in the role and that there were some very strong candidates from within Air New Zealand’s existing executive management team.

A decision would likely be made within six months, he said.

Palmer said Fyfe had ensured Air New Zealand remained profitable despite a backdrop of turbulent economic times that had seen airlines lose billions globally.

"He has also been clear with the board that he did not want to become a road block to the career aspirations of the executive management team and the decision to leave at the end of this year will create an opportunity for growth and renewal within that team at Air New Zealand,” Palmer said.