Incoming Air New Zealand boss Greg Foran has challenged staff to identify where the airline is wasting money that could be better spent on serving customers.
Foran has already started introducing himself to some of the airline's 12,500 staff, meeting cabin crew, pilots, ground staff and engineers during a trip to Christchurch this week.
The former head of Walmart's massive United States operation takes over as chief executive from Christopher Luxon, who last year ordered a review of all head office costs with the aim of making savings of 5 per cent.
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Foran has asked 1200 senior managers to contact him directly to help him understand more about the airline.
"This piece of work from you will form part of a wider diagnostic that I am keen to get underway and in turn feed into a new strategic plan for our airline," he says in the note to the senior staff.
He asks staff to be candid and constructive in their feedback to five questions:
1. What is the most important thing we could do to consistently improve our customer service?
2. Where does Air New Zealand waste money that could be better spent serving our customers?
3. What do you like most about the Air New Zealand culture that you want to preserve?
4. If you could change one thing about the culture, what would that be?
5. What opportunities do you see for us to grow our revenue and profitability?
He said he was looking forward to taking Air New Zealand to the next level.
"Please be really candid and constructive in your feedback. Your perspectives have the potential to make a real difference for our customers, fellow Air New Zealanders, shareholders and stakeholders."
Air New Zealand's pre-tax earnings sagged to $374 million in the last financial year, hit by higher fuel prices and the continued impact of Rolls-Royce engine problems.
In the coming year the airline is targeting earnings before taxation to be in the range of $350m to $450m based on fuel prices of less than US$75 ($113) a barrel.
Although fuel prices are now tracking below this, the airline continues to face Dreamliner engine issues and has been forced to charter planes for longer to cover some routes.
Foran was president and chief executive of Walmart US, responsible for the strategic direction and performance of Walmart's 4600 stores and one million associates which have more than 140 million customers a week and revenues of US$307 billion ($462b).
He joined Walmart International in 2011 and has been resident and chief executive officer of Walmart China.
Walmart has a reputation as being tough in its approach to cutting costs from suppliers although during his tenure in the US he won plaudits for cleaning up stores, improving same-store sales and pushing to pay better wages.
He also had a reputation for walking the aisles of stores, a hands-on approach that will be welcomed by Air New Zealand staff.
Before joining Walmart, Foran held a number of positions with Woolworths in Australia.
"The clock is counting down quickly to my first day and I'm more excited than ever to be leading Air New Zealand into this 80th anniversary year and beyond as we open another chapter in the airline's incredible history," he says in the note to staff.
Before Foran starts the job, chief financial officer Jeff McDowall will continue as acting chief executive a role he has had since Luxon left in September to pursue a political career.
Other executive changes are already underway at the airline with the announcement today that chief people officer Jodie King will leave in the next few months to take up a new job at Vodafone New Zealand.
She will have a similar role at the telco.
King joined Air New Zealand in 2013 and was appointed to chief people officer in February 2016.
McDowall said she had played a "key role" in further building the airline's iconic culture and customer focus.
During her tenure we have seen strong progress in our talent attraction, people development and management, leadership development and diversity and inclusion agenda.
She said "it was going to be a wrench" to leave Air New Zealand but the time was right to apply her skills to another organisation.
King would work with Foran to help the chief executive transition and appoint her successor.
She will leave by the end of the financial year, June 30.