Former Air New Zealand boss Rob Fyfe is heading back to work for an airline after being appointed to Air Canada's board.

Fyfe is credited with helping turn around Air New Zealand's commercial fortunes and introducing new strategy and culture during his tenure as chief executive from 2005 to 2012.

He is the chairman of outdoor clothing company Icebreaker and serves as a director of Michael Hill International and Antarctica New Zealand.

Air Canada said Fyfe would join it board of directors following the retirement of Joseph Leonard, both effective September 30.

While chief executive the airline was named Airline of the Year by Air Transport World, as well as New Zealand's most attractive employer and most reputable company. Fyfe also served as chair of the Star Alliance chief executive board and as a member of the Board of Governors of the International Air Transport Association.

"We are delighted that Rob has agreed to bring his leadership experience and deep knowledge of the airline sector and Asia-Pacific to the service of our company and our shareholders," said Calin Rovinescu, president and chief executive of Air Canada.

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While Air Canada doesn't fly in direct competition with Air New Zealand, it does fly between Canada and Australia.

Canada's flag carrier is among the 20 largest airlines in the world and last year carried close to 45 million customers. It provides scheduled passenger service directly to 64 airports in Canada, 57 in the United States and 95 in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and South America.

Air Canada has a fleet of more than 170 aircraft.