Outgoing Auckland Airport CEO Adrian Littlewood receives multiple job offers within 24 hours

The outgoing boss of New Zealand's biggest airport says he's been fielding multiple job offers in the 24 hours since announcing he's resigning from the role. 

Adrian Littlewood revealed on Thursday he was leaving his role as CEO of Auckland International Airport after nine years in the job.

"There's been a lot of calls, but I've intentionally said no," Adrian Littlewood told Newshub. 

He planned to take his first break in 13 years with his wife and three children. 

The latter of his nine year tenure was dominated by COVID-19 challenges. Passenger numbers tanked as airlines canned services in and out of New Zealand. 

To save money the airport made a quarter of its workforce redundant, slashed pay for remaining staff by 20 percent, suspended $2 billion worth of infrastructure projects and raised $1.2 billion on the sharemarket. 

The airport's bottom line will be in the red when Littlewood leaves mid-year, with an expected net loss of $35 million.

"You never want to be in that case, but I look at the preceding seven years, it was a period of rapid growth," he said. 

He urged the Government to get the vaccination programme right, because the airport's recovery relied on it.

"We are very keen to see the Government's roll-out be a success." 

Interestingly, Littlewood said the pandemic had been both the pit and peak of his tenure.

"You never forecast anything like that, but the way people have responded, supported each other and worked together, I think has really been a highlight." 

He planned to resign last year, but stayed on to see the airport through the crisis, saying it was "really clear and right thing to do".

Littlewood would like to see a quarantine-free arrangement with Singapore underway by the time he leaves, saying it is the "natural place to go next".

He had "mixed emotions" about leaving the airport he'd worked for for 12 years. 

"It will be hard to leave. It's been a big part of my work life, my personal life," he said, adding he doesn't know what his next role will be.

"I like to work on things that matter. I'll think of something to do."

He advised his successor to "take a long-term view".

"We are guardians of the company... if you take that approach, it will always play out well."

Littlewood earned $1.78 million in the 2020 financial year and $2.4 million the year prior. 

Auckland Airport's board is preparing to launch its search for the next CEO.