Air New Zealand has appointed Greg Foran as chief executive to replace Christopher Luxon.

Foran is currently president and chief executive of Walmart US.

"We are thrilled to have attracted a world-class Kiwi back home. Greg has an impeccable track record in delivering strong commercial performance, outstanding customer focus and in building teams that can take a business to the next level," Air NZ chair Dame Therese Walsh said.

Foran, 58, grew up in Hastings and Hamilton and the airline's ability to lure him back to New Zealand will be seen as a coup.

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He is the father of Kiwi league star Kieran Foran who said when he was appointed to the top Walmart job: "He's worked his ass off to try and get in that sort of position and I couldn't be more over the moon for him.''

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Greg Foran joined Walmart International in 2011 where he served in a number of capacities, including as President and CEO of Walmart China and then President and CEO of Walmart Asia up until he assumed his current role in 2014.

Before joining Walmart, he held a number of positions with Woolworths in Australia and New Zealand.

Last year, he was reportedly paid US$13,466,127 in total compensation, more than four times the remuneration Luxon was paid.

Foran said he was ''privileged'' to have been given the opportunity to grow an iconic and critical New Zealand company and brand on the global stage.

He will start in the new role early next year.

"I am an incredibly proud Kiwi and to be given the job of nurturing and building on the legacy of an iconic company that represents the best of our nation at home and around the world really excites me,'' he said.

He said Air New Zealand was deservedly recognised as one of the world's great airlines and that he looks forward to working alongside its people to take it to the next level.

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Analyst for Harbour Asset Management Shane Solly said Foran was a ''world-class leader.''

Forsyth Barr analyst Andy Bowley said Foran's career has been solely retail-focused and that he is extremely well regarded.

''He is a hands-on operator and while he doesn't have any airline experience his senior roles at Woolworths and Walmart have demonstrated his capabilities: managing and incentivising a large workforce, creating on-line and tech-based solutions, very customer focussed and a long track record of delivering commercial results.''

The appointment was positive news for Air New Zealand.

''It has been able to attract a heavy hitter with considerable large organisation commercial experience in a number of different markets,'' said Bowley.

Foran is responsible for the strategic direction and performance of Walmart's 4600 stores and more than one million staff.

Last year, Walmart US had more than 160 million customers a week and had revenues of US$307 billion. It is part of the world's largest company by revenues, Walmart Inc, which had global revenues of more than US$500 billion last year.

Foran took up his current role in 2014 and led a transformation of the business based around Walmart's principles of 'Every Day Low Costs and Every Day Low Price'.

As a result, Walmart US has achieved multiple, consecutive quarters of sales growth over the past several years.