Paul Phelan/CAIRNS

Air New Zealand (ANZ) chief executive Jim McCrea has resigned, with industry sources suggesting the carrier's board is already close to naming a replacement for him.

McCrea left office immediately after his resignation on 7 July. The board selected chairman Sir Selwyn Cushing to hold the reins as executive chairman until a successor is appointed, which could happen as soon as a meeting due on 11 July.

Airline sources say ANZ's part-owner Singapore Airlines (SIA) is taking a leading role in finding a replacement for McCrea - a search which has been under way for several months - and that former Ansett Australia managing director Rod Eddington, now chief executive of British Airways, provided SIA deputy chairman and chief executive Cheong Choong Kong with a shortlist of four candidates.

"We knew there was a shortlist, and that they were pretty close to an appointment," says one source. "Don't be surprised if it's an ex-Cathay Pacific person, or someone from North America." Eddington himself was once chief executive at Cathay.

Announcing his departure, McCrea said he expected his successor to mould a new executive team to guide ANZ through new challenges. These include SIA's increasing involvement and the integration of Ansett, now wholly owned by ANZ. "The transition plan for a smooth integration of the Air New Zealand-Ansett businesses is well advanced," said McCrea, adding that it should generate "financial benefits" needed to secure new growth opportunities.

McCrea has been chief executive since 1991, having joined the airline as an engineering apprentice. He is the second top airline executive to resign within a few days. Swissair president Jeffrey Katz announced his departure on 4 July.

Source: Flight International