Air New Zealand boss Greg Foran says the high rotation of executives at the airline exceeded expectations he took into the job.
The executive wing at the airline's Fanshawe St headquarters is almost unrecognisable from January 2019 - just before he took over - with only pilot and safety boss veteran David Morgan still there.
As the airline is about to welcome Alexandria (Alex) Marren to the critical chief operating officer role, Foran said the pandemic changed everything. Air New Zealand cut about a third of its 12,500 staff within months of the pandemic hitting and he said that had to go right up the chain.
''Did I want this degree of change? No. But when you're faced with downsizing your organisation six weeks after you start, and it's heavily unionised, you need to actually front up and do what's right,'' he said.
''So some of it was not what I intended to do. Other bits were probably going to happen anyway.''
Foran had top roles in retail around the world, his last job as head of Walmart in the United States before returning for the Air New Zealand job.
''I'm sure that for some of the incumbents [when Foran arrived] they probably wanted my job. And when they didn't get my job, they were probably going to leave anyway. It was just going to be a matter of time.''
He said executive turnover was not uncommon when there was a new boss but had been accentuated by the pandemic.
Within the next two months Marren will arrive from the United States to replace Carrie Hurihanganui who has started as chief executive at Auckland International Airport.
Although Marren's most recent job is as president of services company ABM Aviation in Atlanta, her 36-year career in senior operations, customer, cabin crew and airport leadership roles at Air New Zealand alliance partner United Airlines is what appeals to Foran.
She worked with Air New Zealand board member Larry De Shon at United and was in key roles during times of crisis - 9/11 and the global financial crisis. She also ran United's operation on the US eastern seaboard - one of the toughest operating environments with bad weather and congestion.
The airline has made an internal appointment with Mike Williams taking up the new role as chief transformation and alliances officer.
He has a degree in aerospace engineering and a background in commerce. He's developed, and more recently led the review of the Kia Mau (Get Ready) strategy which is focusing on growing the lucrative domestic operation, rebuilding an international network and leveraging more from the airline's loyalty programme.
During the executive upheaval Richard Thomson, who has 13 years' experience at the airline, rejoined as chief financial officer, replacing Jeff McDowall; Nikki Dines, who has seven years' experience, is chief people officer and replaced short-term appointee Joe McCollum who was brought in to swing the axe.
Leanne Geraghty, who has been at the airline since 2004, is chief customer and sales officer succeeding Cam Wallace and Nikhil Ravishankar moved from Vector to replace Jennifer Sepull who went back to the US. Mat Bolland joined the airline's executive last May and oversees the airline's government relations, regional, cultural and regulatory affairs, and communications functions.
Foran said he's happy with the balance of the reshaped top tier.
''It's a good mixture of people from different backgrounds, different nationalities, different ways of thinking and they're really interested in collaborating and working together to find solutions that [are] best for the organisation, not just best for their function.''
Those who have left have gone on to a range of roles from what has been something of an executive talent factory. Hurihanganui says the airline nurtures talent by moving staff through a variety of roles and supporting further education at top global institutions.
Among those who left the airline, Cam Wallace has gone to Mediaworks as chief executive and McDowall followed as CFO.
Chief marketing and customer officer Mike Tod has been appointed chief executive of the TAB after a stint as head of corporate affairs at the CBA in Australia and the airline's former alliances boss Nick Judd is now chief financial officer at THL.