Christopher Luxon has announced his plans to quit Air New Zealand at a time the airline is at the crossroads, leaving his options wide open and no obvious successor.
After years of building to super profits - the airline hit its biggest surplus in its history two years ago - it is now facing headwinds. Like most at the top, hearing bad news is less fun than dealing with good news and Luxon likes the latter.
He took over as Air New Zealand's chief executive in 2013 after two years working as its international head. Within the airline his term at the top - approaching seven years - is seen as about right, although his departure right now is seen as something as a surprise.
Late last month he said he was "committed to Air New Zealand" but it seems, that was then.
He's long been tipped as a National Party candidate and he's left open an entry into politics as an option in the statement issued yesterday.
That was seen as a matter of timing but given that party's position right now he'd want to get his timing just right.
He talks of using his skills, abilities and experience to make a further contribution to New Zealand whether it be another corporate job or not for profit.
He's sincere when he talks about "super-charging New Zealand" so no matter where he ends up there's a ton of energy and ambition within him to do just that.
While the big chief executive role is not immediately apparent, given his experience and commercial success at Air New Zealand he would be welcome at most big businesses if a vacancy did open up. He was approached for the top job in Fonterra last year but turned down the co-operative back then.
And he could also devote more of his time to a non-profit. Last year he joined the board of Christian aid group Tearfund, he and his family attracted to the mission and actively involved in raising funds and awareness around Tearfund's anti-human trafficking and exploitation work.
Colleagues say he is going to take a few months off to think about his next move.
His announcement comes after just signing off on the airline's next big longhaul fleet decision - more Dreamliners - some expansion within the Pacific Rim but after a succession of profit downgrades as fuel costs, competition, rising costs and ebbing demand in some sectors take their toll. The airline is looking to shave 5 per cent off its overhead costs.
Luxon, 48, can be well satisfied with the legacy he leaves even if the business has got a little bit messier in the last six months.
The airline has a history of looking outside the organisation for chief executive
Luxon spent nearly 20 years at Unilever before being groomed for the top job at Air New Zealand.
Outside candidates being mentioned include outgoing Spark boss Simon Moutter (familiar with the aviation sector through his leadership at Auckland Airport) and soon to be in the job market and also TVNZ boss Kevin Kenrick who has been tipped for other bigger corporate roles before.
It is unlikely the board will look internally but those with a strong track record include chief revenue officer Cam Wallace has wide experience throughout the business and has achieved record results and a longer shot could be chief financial officer Jeff McDowall.
Air New Zealand alumni Stephen Jones now with fast growing European airline Wizz Air and Andrew David now at Qantas have the Kiwi connections that could be importtant to the board.
If the board is looking for an airline boss from outside the company former Hawaiian Airlines boss Mark Dunkerley is a big fan of this country and ran that airline successfully.
Luxon's departure in September will come as chairman Tony Carter steps down and is replaced by Dame Therese Walshe. The double dissolution will provide an opportunity for her and the new chief executive to well and truly put their stamp on the business.