Paul Phelan/CAIRNS

ANSETT HAS CLEARED the decks for the imminent Air New Zealand (ANZ) buy-in, with managing director Graeme McMahon and two of his senior managers departing in favour of a new ten-member executive structure at the Australian airline.

News Limited chief and executive chairman of Ansett Holdings, Ken Cowley, announced McMahon's sudden retirement on 13 March, along with the early retirement of general-operations manager Ron Entsch and the resignation of general commercial manager Gary Smith.

TNT, News International's co-shareholder in Ansett, is selling its stake to Air New Zealand, assuming that the deal gains regulatory approval from the authorities.

"I have decided to re-organise the airline's executive to give Ansett Australia a fresh leadership team to take us forward with strength, dynamism and flexibility at this critical time in our industry," Cowley has told staff.

The moves come after a poor second half-year in 1995, with operating profits dropping by 52.9% and continuing loss of market share to Qantas. In addition, a Bureau of Air Safety Investigation report on the carrier's Boeing 747 accident at Sydney in 1995, due for release shortly, is expected to be critical of the management.

Cowley has retained a major personal role in controlling the airline by declining to name a new chief executive and signalling that he will "...continue to serve as executive chairman of Ansett Australia, overseeing the strategic development of the airline".

Hugh Thorburn, former head of Ansett's international operation, will take up the new post of chief operating officer. Allan Harrison, director of maintenance and engineering, is appointed general manager technical, responsible for most of Entsch's former domain of maintenance, engineering, flight operations, security and safety.

Rick Ellis, once chief executive of Ansett New Zealand, is named as general manager of sales and marketing; former Qantas executive Ron Rosalky moves from a regional-airport-services job to be director of airport operations; and director of strategic planning, Lyell Strambyl, becomes general manager for revenue and systems.

Source: Flight International