John Key's position as a director on Air New Zealand's board is the first position the former Prime Minister has taken up to be made public.

On Monday Key said he was approached by the Air New Zealand board and will join officially on September 1.

Speaking to Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking Breakfast Key said he had been approached by many companies nationally and internationally about various roles. Air New Zealand was one of the first to reach him.

He said there would be more positions in Australasia made public in coming weeks, but his positions in Northern Hemisphere companies, mostly in advisory roles, might not be publically announced.


"Air New Zealand is a fantastic company. I've known a fair bit about the airline because of being Minister of Tourism. It's an iconic New Zealand company and a great one to join," Key told Newstalk ZB.

"For Air New Zealand, it's always been about two things: innovation and the experience. It's about New Zealanders feeling some sort of ownership over the airline."

Key said he had dinner with the Air New Zealand board of directors and discussed the positives about having him on the board. He said his experience as Minister of Tourism gave him insight to the company, and said in some countries where the airline operates being a former Prime Minister and a director would hold the company in high esteem.

On Monday, Air NZ chairman Tony Carter says the board has been actively searching for a director with strong international business experience and a deep knowledge of tourism for around a year.

"When John Key announced he was stepping down as Prime Minister and moving to a new phase of life outside of politics, it became a priority for the board to try to secure his services as a director," Carter said.

"John will bring extensive international commercial experience, outstanding leadership skills, global perspective and a keen understanding of the tourism sector gained during the years he was Tourism Minister as well as Prime Minister of New Zealand."

Air New Zealand led the local share market higher yesterday, adding 2.4 per cent to $2.61.

Key told Newstalk ZB he had been "remarkably busy" since stepping down as Prime Minister and has been travelling a lot.


"Having spontaneity is great. It's nice to wander down the road for lunch then hit some golf balls."