High rotation at the top of Air New Zealand continues with long-term plans announced for the departure of chief financial officer Jeff McDowall.
This will follow the departure or looming departure this year of four other members of the executive, between them with more than a century of experience at the airline.
But chief executive Greg Foran has wisely looked inside the airline to fill a new executive role. Today he appointed Leanne Geraghty, a travel industry veteran and well regarded Air New Zealand sales executive of the last 15 years, to a new sales and customer role reporting to him.
The airline is going to need all the help it can get to persuade people to fly again when the worst of the pandemic passes and borders reopen and the travel trade will be crucial.
An Aussie, Geraghty is well known within the travel and tourism industry on both sides of the Tasman.
And while airlines will try to deal directly with customers as much as possible in future, travel agents will remain an important avenue for sales.
Geraghty has been a key member of the revenue team which, under Cam Wallace, built the airline's pre-pandemic income to close to $6 billion a year. She picks up his key functions following his departure.
In the past year she has broadened her CV as group general manager airports with responsibility for more than 1800 staff and operations across 50 airports internationally.
Foran describes her as "an outstanding leader" with a tremendous depth of industry knowledge, having worked in the aviation and tourism industries.
''Her detailed knowledge of the New Zealand, Australian and Pacific Island markets, in particular, sets us up well for the post Covid-19 international tourism recovery when the time comes," he says.
Travel Agents Association of NZ president Brent Thomas has welcomed Geraghty's new role.
''She is extremely well regarded in the industry and knows the importance of all channels.''
Centre of the storm
McDowall will leave in the middle of next year following a planned capital raise in the first half of 2021.
He's been at the very centre of the crisis this year, flying to Wellington in March when the country's borders were closing and credit markets were tightening to negotiate the $900 million Government backstop loan which this month it is tapping into to.
The necessity to switch to government rather than commercial debt happened "almost overnight".'
Since then he's seen revenue collapse, 18 years of airline profits turn into a $454m after-tax loss and staff cut by a third.
Foran said McDowall was playing a critical role in supporting the airline rebuild from the ravages of Covid-19.
Jeff and I started @FlyAirNZ within days of each other, 19 yrs ago. We have travelled to all parts of the network together. He is one of the smartest guys in aviation and is one of my best mates. I'm so very sad for my ex colleagues that he is departing. @andykirton pic.twitter.com/LeTbOInEEk— Cam Wallace (@CamWallace_NZ) October 5, 2020
''He has had an illustrious career at Air New Zealand, including as acting chief executive pending me starting earlier this year. Without Jeff's leadership over the past two decades, especially as part of the executive team in recent years, the airline would not have delivered its long run of commercial success or grown its international footprint around the world so successfully."
McDowall earlier this year became an independent director of Syft, a fast-growing air quality sniffing tech firm.
His time at Air New Zealand has been book-ended by financial crises.
He started in 2000. His first job: working in Melbourne in the finance department that was working on the integration of Ansett Australia which collapsed the following year.
He was working on bringing jobs back to this country, he told the Herald last year.
"I had about 80 staff in Melbourne. It was tricky for everyone - they knew my job was to bring their job back to Auckland."
The collapse also left him in limbo.
"My job disappeared because the need to integrate Ansett went away so for a month nobody knew what their job was going to be and we had no structure and no CEO for a while."
This marked the low point for Air New Zealand which following an $885m Government bailout largely hadn't looked back - until now.
New look on the top floor
The executive suite on the top floor of the airline's Fanshawe St headquarters is unrecognisable from what it was a year ago.
Before the pandemic - and well signalled, was the departure of former chief executive Christopher Luxon and the arrival of Foran as his successor. Chief people officer Jodie King also announced her move to Vodafone in January.
A new chief executive always means change but since Covid-19 struck the departures have come thick and fast as the move to slash staff by a third has extended to the top level.
Towards the end of May the exit of networks and alliances officer Nick Judd, chief air operations and people safety officer John Whittaker and chief marketing and customer officer Mike Tod were announced. Tod is still doing advisory work for Foran and the board.
Wallace, on September 30, stepped down as chief commercial and customer officer although, when his exit was announced, said he would continue to provide consultancy support to Foran until the end of the year.
Of the executive at the start of last year only chief operating officer Carrie Hurihanganui and chief operations, integrity and safety officer David Morgan remain. Morgan has been at Air NZ since 1985.
Jennifer Sepull, chief digital officer, joined the executive in May last year and Joe McCollom in April this year from Spark.
Foran says Air NZ will soon commence a global search for McDowall's successor.