Auckland Airport CEO Adrian Littlewood resigns after ‘sudden, highly disruptive’ Covid impact

Auckland Airport has announced the resignation of chief executive Adrian Littlewood.

This brings an end to his nine-year tenure at the NZX-listed company.

Auckland Airport chair Patrick Strange commended Littlewood’s contribution over a tough period at the business.

“From his appointment as chief executive in 2012 up to the emergence of Covid-19 early last year, Adrian has led the organisation through a period of significant growth and development across all areas of the business while delivering strong shareholder returns,” said Strange.

“Over the past year, Adrian has shown his considerable leadership skills through some of the most challenging times the business has ever faced. With the sudden and highly disruptive impact of Covid-19 on the company’s core business, Adrian has led a business response that has not only ensured the health, safety and wellbeing of Auckland Airport staff and travellers, but has also ensured the business is well placed for the future.”

Auckland Airport has been hit hard by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The company’s financial reports filed in February showed an 80 per cent decline in profit.

Revenue for the six months fell by 64.9 per cent to $131.5m and its operating profit dropped by 68.4 per cent to $88.2m.

The company’s earnings per share fell by 84.1 per cent to 1.91 cents.

The company, in its earnings outlook for the full year to June 30, said it expects to report a net loss of between $35m and $55m.

The business has been given some respite by the opening of the quarantine-free travel with Australia and the Cook Islands.

This has led to some more promising news, with passenger numbers hitting a 13-month high in April.

Passenger numbers through the airport reached 714,300 in April, up from almost 501,000 in March and from a long-term low of 43,300 in April 2020.

Littlewood said he was proud of the hard work the team at the airport had put in over the course of the pandemic.

“I am particularly proud of the role they have all played in both the immediate response and the gradual recovery since Covid-19 hit our shores, ensuring New Zealand’s critical air connections remain open.

“It is difficult to pick out highlights but there are a few that are worthy of mention. While Covid-19 up-ended our multi-billion dollar airport infrastructure development, the reset of our 30-year master plan and the start on its eight anchor projects and the hundreds of enabling projects is an ambitious but important programme that has set the path for restarting as the recovery builds.”

Strange says the board will commence a search for a replacement for Littlewood, with both internal and external candidates considered for the role.

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