Air New Zealand has axed three top executives as the airline deals with fallout from Covid-19.

Chief executive Greg Foran said chief strategy networks and alliances officer Nick Judd will depart on May 31 and chief air operations and people safety officer John Whittaker on July 31.

Chief marketing and customer officer Mike Tod ''will step away'' from the airline full-time on May 31 and will provide advisory support to Foran and the board during the business transformation phase.

Between them, they have nearly 70 years' experience at the airline and their departures come after the appointment of a new human resources boss in April.


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"As we have done in all parts of our business, we are creating the structure that is appropriate for an airline we expect will take two years to get back to 70 per cent of its former size. On that basis I have reduced the size of the executive team from nine to six," Foran said.

He said the portfolios of the three departing executives will be absorbed by the remaining members of the executive team.

Air New Zealand networks chief Nick Judd has been at the airline for 17 years. Photo / Dean Purcell.
Air New Zealand networks chief Nick Judd has been at the airline for 17 years. Photo / Dean Purcell.

"Nick, John and Mike have made an outstanding contribution to the airline with a combined 68 years of service at Air New Zealand.''

They had played pivotal roles in growing Air New Zealand's international network, products and services, and deepening relationships with key stakeholders like unions and alliance partners.

''They will leave at a time where our customer satisfaction scores are at all-time highs, we are seen to lead the way with culture and people safety in aviation, our brand health is the best it has been and our corporate reputation is number one in Australia for the third year running and number one in New Zealand for the sixth consecutive year," Foran said.

Foran, who started in the top job in early February, said the trio had ''been incredibly helpful'' as he settled into his role and their deep experience has been vital as the airline navigated a tumultuous 100 days.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has announced a loan of up to $900 million to bail out Air New Zealand. Video / Derek Cheng

''As with the current 30 per cent workforce reduction, these three changes are equally difficult. Mike, John and Nick are going to be deeply missed and they have interacted with thousands of our Air New Zealand whanau, near and wide over many years.''


In a note to customers, Tod said that for the past 16 years Air New Zealand has been ''a huge part of my life and I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved".

Air New Zealand would draw on its remarkable resilience during this next phase as it comes out of the Covid-19 pandemic a much smaller airline.

''I ask that you continue to support Greg Foran and the team as they deliver a new strategy to take Air New Zealand into the future.''

In April, Foran appointed an airline outsider, former Spark and ICI chemical HR boss Joe McCollum to replace Jodie King, who is leaving the airline to go to Vodafone.

This week it was announced that 1300 cabin crew jobs had gone. Already 300 jet pilots have been laid off and a final number of regional pilot jobs going is imminent.

When the magnitude of the crisis became clear in March, the airline said up to 3500 staff could lose their jobs. There is little prospect of long-haul flying until some time next year although more transtasman services could be restored within months if the health picture in New Zealand and Australia allows.

The airline is steadily restoring domestic services as internal leisure travel is allowed.