Air New Zealand CFO joins executive exodus

by AirlineRatings editors
October 06, 2020
Air New Zealand
Photo: AIr New Zealand.

The run of long-serving Air New Zealand executives heading for the departure lounge continues with chief financial officer Jeff McDowall confirming he intends to leave towards the middle of 2021 after more than two decades at the carrier.

McDowall will stay to assist with a planned capital raising before following the likes of former chief commercial and customer officer Cam Wallace, former chief marketing and customer officer Mike Tod and former chief flight operations and people safety officer John Whittaker.

Several exits came after Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran culled his senior executive team in May, citing the impact of COVID-19.

READ: Aviation groups intensify push to replace European quarantine with testing.

Like airlines globally, Air New Zealand has been ravaged by the coronavrius pandemic and it announced in September that it had started to draw down on government-backed standby funding as it looked at its long-term structure and the capital raise.

The move came as it recorded a $NZ454 million net loss for 2019-20 compared to a $NZ276 million profit the previous year.

McDowall, who has been CFO since 2018 and held a series of senior commercial and finance roles at the airline, will stay until the capital raise is completed.

“Jeff is playing a critical role in supporting myself and the Board as we rebuild from the ravages of COVID-19, but after a career spanning more than two decades with the airline, he feels it will be time to open a new chapter of his career once the capital raise is complete,’’ Foran said in a statement.

“We will shortly commence a global search for a successor, and I would like to thank Jeff for giving us such a long line of sight of his career intentions.

“He has had an illustrious career at Air New Zealand, including as acting chief executive officer pending me starting earlier this year.

“Without Jeff’s leadership over the past two decades, especially as part of the Executive team in recent years, the airline would not have delivered its long run of commercial success or grown its international footprint around the world so successfully.”

Meanwhile, Leanne Geraghty has been appointed to the newly created position of chief customer and sales officer.

Originally from Australia, she was previously group general manager airports with responsibility for more than 1800 employees and operations across 50 airports internationally.

“Leanne is an outstanding leader with a tremendous depth of industry knowledge having worked in the aviation and tourism industries on both sides of the Tasman for more than 30 years and led teams around the world,’’ Foran said.

“Her detailed knowledge of the New Zealand, Australian and Pacific Island markets, in particular, sets us up well for the post-COVID-19 international tourism recovery when the time comes.”