Interview with Christopher Luxon | CEO, Air New Zealand

Christopher Luxon

"There is no doubt macroeconomics impacts our economy and our businesses. However, within our markets, and even those that are slowing, are very large segments of highly valuable customers and consumers. We just have to get better at market development, understanding the triggers and barriers to purchase, and extracting the gold from these markets."

Our purpose is to supercharge New Zealand's success economically, environmentally and socially, and that is not going to change. Our past and our future is inextricably linked to the success of New Zealand. You can't have a strong Air New Zealand without having a prosperous New Zealand. And likewise, New Zealand needs a strong, growing and thriving Air New Zealand to connect it to the world and bring the world to us. Fundamentally, business needs a strong society and society needs strong business.

Some of our infrastructure in New Zealand is now struggling to keep pace with the recent and rapid growth in tourism (meaning hotels and quality hotels). This is a challenge as we don't want the customer experience to be frustrated. So we are now pushing our customers into the shoulders of the peak tourism season and also promoting New Zealand heavily in the off-peak period, too. It means we're dispersing visitors better throughout the year and across more of regional New Zealand.

Business growth is not bad. We need to grow if we are to have the money, people and technology to invest in better communities, more skilled people, alternative energies to replace carbon, greater biodiversity, and product innovation. As a business, we do not have the luxury of choice – we cannot choose between growth and sustainability; we have to have both. Thus we need to build new business models that will enable responsible and sustainable growth.

Business inextricably plays a role in strengthening civil society. So when you think about it, I make no apologies for being a 'business person' because it is business that has lifted billions of people out of poverty. We should have liberty and freedom to run our businesses as we see fit, but equally there is a counter-posing and a responsibility to make sure our business strengthens civil society.

I've had investors tell me they are buying our shares because they believe companies that embrace sustainability are better run companies and will get better than average returns and industry averages by virtue of this. For us it is very clear – our customers are ultimately demanding it, employees really want it, and vendors and partners need it, too.

We have also worked really hard at only having New Zealand products on board where we can. For example, we're the biggest pourer of New Zealand wines in the country. Yet there is much more we can do. Improving the sustainability of our supply chain will be a key focus and last year we launched a new supplier code of conduct. It outlines more specific expectations of our suppliers when it comes to sustainability than what we have previously had.

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Mark Averill

Mark Averill

CEO and Senior Partner, PwC New Zealand

Tel: +64 21 646 418

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