Air New Zealand executive Carrie Hurihanganui named new CEO of Auckland International Airport

She will be the company's first female CEO.
She will be the company's first female CEO. Photo credit: File

Carrie Hurihanganui has been announced as the new CEO of Auckland International Airport.

To take the new job, Hurihanganui is leaving her role as Air New Zealand's Chief Operating Officer, with the airline announcing her resignation on Monday morning.

"It's a real honour to be named the next Chief Executive of Auckland Airport, a great New Zealand company that has a critical role to play in our country's economy," Hurihanganui said.

"I have a long history with the airport and I am very excited by the opportunities that lie ahead. I look forward to working closely with the Board, the airport team and all of the airport's partners as we continue to deliver for New Zealand and support the country's recovery." 

Auckland Airport Chair Patrick Strange said the appointment was great news for the airport.

"She is a highly regarded leader in aviation who joins Auckland Airport following one of the most challenging times in its history," he said.

"We are confident that her leadership, operational knowledge and focus on customer experience will ensure Auckland Airport's strong recovery from the pandemic and return to growth as the emerging robust recovery in international aviation and travel reaches New Zealand." 

Speaking about her departure from Air NZ, the airline's CEO Greg Foran said Hurihanganui's time at the airline had been inspirational.

"Joining more than 22 years ago as an international cabin crew member and rising to lead over 6000 people, Carrie has developed exceptional leadership skills and operational knowledge. It will be very sad to see her leave the company, but great to see her lead an organisation we work so closely with," Foran said.

"Carrie has done an exceptional job, especially since COVID began to impact our business. It was no small feat to keep our operations running across engineering, airports, airline operations, properties, supply chain, cabin crew and pilots during a constantly changing crisis. 

"The industry may not be out of this yet, but it will be nice to know Carrie isn't too far away as we work together to rebuild aviation for New Zealanders."

Aviation commentators had named Hurihanganui as a possible successor to previous Air NZ CEO Christopher Luxon, and she will become the first female Chief Executive of the airport in its 55-year history.

At Auckland Airport, Hurihanganui will replace Adrian Littlewood, who announced his departure in May after almost nine years in the role.

Hurihanganui was born in the US and moved to New Zealand 32 years ago after visiting Aotearoa on holiday. She began her career as an Air NZ flight attendant in 1999 while she studied for her Bachelor of Business Management degree. 

Littlewood will finish in his role at Auckland Airport in November and current General Manager Corporate Services Mary-Liz Tuck, will step-in until Hurihanganui takes up her new role in early 2022.