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Air New Zealand flight attendant named CEO after one year on job

A 51-year-old flight attendant has completed a swift and stunning rise to CEO of Air New Zealand.

A 51-year-old flight attendant has completed a swift and stunning rise to CEO of Air New Zealand.

New Zealand’s national carrier, Air New Zealand, has expressed great enthusiasm in announcing its new CEO today: 51-year-old Nathan Guy, a flight attendant who has spent about 1200 hours on the job.

Guy joined the company as a fresh-faced, wide-eyed flight attendant serving now-reduced domestic routes in November of 2020, and has since spent a full and fruitful year, in his words, “learning the ropes.”

Spoken to just two months ago, Guy said he had no intention of moving up the ladder – let alone taking control of the entire $2 billion company – any time soon, emphasising that he still had “so much to learn” before he could further his aspirations with the airline.

Asked today what had changed since he made those comments, Guy said he had “now learned everything.”

“Obviously back then I had so much to grapple with, even just to get my feet steady, but now, I’ve grappled with it,” he said. “To be a flight attendant you have to do things like serve coffee, and smile at people, and help the drunk man wipe his vomit off his shirt and onto the armrest. But to be CEO, you have to really understand the physical and social infrastructure of the whole company, and really how your internal operations exist in this wider ecosystem of what is, partially an international business, and ultimately planes, and engines, and fuselage and so forth. And I now know all of that.”

Asked when exactly he learned everything, Guy said it was “about five days ago.”

“Yeah, that’d be about right. About five days.”

Outgoing CEO Greg Foran said Guy would make a fantastic new leader for the airline.

“I wasn’t actually planning to resign,” he told gathered media this afternoon. “But the other day my CFO and my COO came to me, and they said, ‘Greg, we’re sorry, it’s time. It’s time for Nathan Guy to be the CEO of Air of New Zealand.’

“And I suppose my first reaction was, who’s Nathan Guy? Does he work for us?”

Foran said he was ultimately left with no choice but to stand aside, after being overwhelmed by the sheer weight of amorphous media-driven social expectations.

“He’s obviously a very impressive person,” he said of Guy. “He has the skills. I’m told he has the skills. And to, you know, develop these CEO skills in just, what, one year? I’ve never seen anything quite like it.”

Foran was asked what exactly those skills were.

“Uh, I guess, momentum,” he said. “Uh, being inevitable. Uh, friends with John Key.”

Guy, who has no experience in the corporate world and no prior experience with airlines, said he would “attempt” to draw transferable skills from his previous job as a National MP.

“Obviously it’s not the same thing,” he conceded. “But there are similarities. A lot of it, for example, is about managing an organisation that is in rapid decline.

“As an MP, I spent a lot of time sitting on planes. And now, I’m just shifting slightly into managing every single plane in the sky, and all the operations of our national airline, and how that all comes together to generate profit and growth.

“It’s not hugely different. What could go wrong?”