Australian media has reported Air New Zealand's move to sell all or part of its stake in Virgin was brought on by a failed bid to oust Virgin chief executive John Borghetti.

Air New Zealand announced last month chief executive Christopher Luxon had resigned from Virgin's board and the company was considering a sale of all or part of its 25.9 per cent stake in the Australian carrier.

The Sydney Morning Herald today reports Luxon resigned from the board after failing to receive support to replace Borghetti from other directors, including chairman Elizabeth Bryan and representatives of Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways and Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group.

Singapore Airlines is seen as a possible buyer of Air New Zealand's 25.9 per cent stake in Virgin Australia if it opts to sell out.


Air New Zealand bought into Virgin as a way of securing its joint venture on the transtasman route at a time of a possible threat from Singapore Airlines' Australasian ambitions.

Singapore and Etihad later also bought in to Virgin.

Deutsche Bank says Virgin's structure allows for the two other airline shareholders to buy the Air New Zealand stake.

"Singapore Airlines in particular could be interested in a controlling stake if they can also gain access under the Service Agreement to operate the international operations -- particularly those operating on the Pacific routes."