Air New Zealand's Christopher Luxon hit the ground running when he took over as chief executive on January 1, spending the day with frontline staff at Auckland Airport.

The 42-year-old helped reshape the international airline for 18 months before taking over the top job and has brought to the airline some of the commercial street smarts learned in the ruthless North American fast-moving consumer goods market as a Unilever executive.

While other airlines in this region have faltered - notably Qantas - Air New Zealand's profit soared and it is on track to do even better in the coming year.

Luxon has assembled an executive team that blends outside skills with deep institutional experience and has won plaudits for working more closely with the wider travel industry to fill more seats.


The sale of 20 per cent of Air New Zealand happened amid controversy, but the market liked what it saw in the Luxon-led company and bought in at a price that was close to its highest in five years.