A key figure at the top of Air New Zealand will leave the airline later this year.

Chief operations officer Bruce Parton will leave at the end of September after 22 years at the airline, prompting a shake-up of the airline's structure.

Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon said Parton had advised him last year that he wanted to take a break from corporate life.

Luxon said Parton's career had been hugely successful.

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Parton joined Air New Zealand in 1996 and before his appointment in November 2007 as general manager of all its short-haul international and domestic operations, he had been general manager of the domestic airline, Pacific airline and airline operation.

Parton, in his early 50s, was appointed to his current chief operations officer role in January, 2013.

Since then this role has been accountable for the major operational areas of the company, with responsibility for more than 7000 staff.

''Bruce is a highly respected member of the executive and always brings positive energy to the team. I personally value his tremendous commercial acumen, results orientation and entrepreneurial spirit,'' Luxon said in a newsletter to staff.

Luxon said operations would now be restructured.

The organisational structure of the operations function will be split into two pillars – one focused on ground operations and another focused on air operations.

Luxon said he would appoint a chief ground operations officer soon to work alongside chief air operations and people safety officer John Whittaker.