Air New Zealand chief commercial and customer officer Cam Wallace is resigning from the airline to pursue opportunities overseas.

He joins the exodus from the airline's executive, dealing the company a big blow.

He will step away from Air New Zealand on September 30 and will provide consultancy support to chief executive officer Greg Foran until the end of 2020.

Wallace has been with Air New Zealand for 19 years and has held a variety of senior and executive roles.

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Foran said Wallace had made an outstanding contribution to the airline.

"Under Cam's leadership, Air New Zealand's passenger, cargo and loyalty revenues have experienced unparalleled growth over the past six years. He has been instrumental in developing new market opportunities, growing strategic alliance partnerships, expanding the loyalty footprint, and driving profitable growth throughout the airline's business.''

Foran said that Wallace had told him that given the airline is now effectively a domestic carrier for the foreseeable future that he was resigning to pursue opportunities that meet his global career ambitions.

Wallace is well known in the airline scene in Australia.

Wallace said today that he was ''fortunate to have been presented with some professional opportunities recently'' but will take a bit of a break before taking on his next role.

''My immediate priority will be to catch my breath and invest more time with my family, who have seen little of me this year as I have worked with my executive colleagues current and past to give our airline every chance of success against the backdrop of the ravages on Covid-19 on aviation and tourism.''

He said in light of Air NZ's limited international opportunities he would focus the next stage of his career on allowing him to work on the global stage where he deeply enjoyed challenges across geographies, cultures and economies.

For much of this year has been the face of the airline through its refund and credit crisis and updating passengers on Twitter about its operations.

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He is well regarded in the airline and travel industry and with his broad knowledge of most aspects of the Air NZ business which will be difficult to replace.

He was a contender for the top job at the airline after Christopher Luxon's resignation but the board opted for ex-pat Kiwi Greg Foran who was running Walmart's United States business.

 Air New Zealand's international aspirations are limited by Covid-19. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Air New Zealand's international aspirations are limited by Covid-19. Photo / Brett Phibbs

As chief revenue officer he built the airline up to a near $6 billion business but it has fallen by $1b in the year to June 30, which took in only a few months of the pandemic. Much worse is forecast in the current year as the airline effectively becomes a domestic airline operating around Covid restrictions and in a weakening economy. It will also have an international freight business but very few international passenger services.

In May the airline announced the departure of chief strategy networks and alliances officer Nick Judd and chief air operations and people safety officer John Whittaker on July 31.

Chief marketing and customer officer Mike Tod stepped away from the airline full-time on May 31 and has been providing advisory support to Foran and the board during the business transformation phase.

Between them, they had nearly 70 years' experience at the airline and their departures came after the appointment of a new human resources boss - airline outsider, former Spark and ICI chemical HR boss Joe McCollum to replace Jodie King, who left the airline to go to Vodafone.

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Of the executive team from a year ago only three remain: Carrie Hurihanganui, now chief operating officer, Jeff McDowall, chief financial officer and David Morgan, chief operational integrity and safety officer.

Foran said today Wallace would not immediately be replaced and he would take responsibility for the commercial and customer roles.

"On behalf of the executive and the board I would like to thank Cam for the contribution he has made over the past 19 years, especially throughout the course of 2020 as the airline has grappled with unprecedented challenges thrust upon it by COVID-19,'' said Foran.

''His global revenue generation experience and deep customer centricity have been critical to our efforts to ensure our airline has a viable future."