Air NZ chief executive Christopher Luxon 'absolutely' interested in standing for National

Outgoing Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon says if he decided to go into politics, he'll "absolutely" be standing for the National Party.

Luxon announced on Wednesday night he'll leave his role at the national carrier later this year, after seven years in the top job.

"Most CEOs around the world now only get about four-and-a-half years. Probably the large majority don't get to choose to stay on - they get asked to leave," Luxon told The AM Show on Thursday.

"I was in a position where I felt, after seven years, I'd done everything I wanted to do."

Sir John Key, whose time as National Party leader and Prime Minister overlapped with Luxon's stint as CEO, has been encouraging the 48-year-old to enter politics.

"John and I are good friends. I actually like his wife better than him, she's really great. I have to tolerate John as a consequence of that relationship," Luxon joked.

"We've talked about it obviously, at some sort of level. He's an encouraging sort of guy - I mean, I know him pretty well. He said,'Look, if that's what you want to do and you want to give it a go.' He's encouraging of any good people that want to get into politics. It's just a conversation we've had over the years."

Christopher Luxon.
Christopher Luxon. Photo credit: The AM Show

While his job at Air NZ required him to be "apolitical", there's no question in his mind he'll follow Sir John into the National Party, if he enters politics.

"I think so, yeah. Absolutely. It's where my politics is and how I feel. I'm a pretty centrist kind of guy, and that's where I'd go."

It took Sir John only four years to go from entering Parliament to leading National. At present it's highly unlikely the party will in a position to form the next Government, with no potential coalition partners.

Both times it's been in a position to choose the next Government in the last 20 years, New Zealand First has sided with Labour. But should Luxon chart a similar path to Sir John and quickly rise to the top, that could change.

"I actually really enjoy Winston," Luxon said. "I actually caught up with him last week... we can spar quite well."

Left-wing political commentator Chris Trotter says National should pounce on Luxon before he decides to do something else with his time.

"I imagine he would be regarded as a pretty good catch for the National Party. These high-flying businesspeople are exactly what the National Party's looking for," Trotter told Newshub.

"He's probably pretty well set-up for a Cabinet position, and maybe the top job one day."

Chris Trotter.
Chris Trotter. Photo credit: The AM Show

Economist Shamubeel Eaqub said there has been talk for "years" that Luxon would one day enter politics.

"Ever since I first met him, that's been one of the conversations. He's very well-connected across the whole spectrum of society... it's not as if he's been hiding it."

But first, Luxon said he's going to take some time out after finishing up at Air NZ in September.

"I'm 48 years old, I'm really committed to New Zealand. I spent 16 years overseas, I love the country, and I'd like to find a way to do something... I'm not ruling it out. I want to think about how I can do something that's important."

And that could be entering the non-profit sector instead, with Luxon having a keen interest in ending human trafficking.

"We've got 35 million people enslaved around the world. We're living in 2019. When we grew up... we were thinking the world would have solved all these problems, and we haven't."

Air NZ has started an international hunt for his replacement, who'll take the reins in late September.