World

Exiting Air NZ CEO to enter Kiwi politics

By AAP Newswire

The outgoing chief of Air New Zealand has confirmed a richly-anticipated shift into New Zealand politics, adding weight to the opposition's bid to tilt Jacinda Ardern from power.

Kiwi business titan Christopher Luxon has announced he will nominate to be National's candidate in the seat of Botany for next year's election.

He's yet to formally win the party's backing, but the 49-year-old's election already appears certain.

Former National prime minister Sir John Key, who serves on the Air New Zealand board, has called Luxon a "world class candidate" - an indication the party will swing behind his colleague for selection.

Botany, the Auckland-based seat Luxon is targeting, has been won by National at every election since being created in 2008.

However, incumbent Jamie-Lee Ross, was expelled by the party last year after an unedifying spat with leader Simon Bridges.

Ross will take significant political baggage from a term marked by scandal to the election, and National is confident of winning the seat back.

Luxon has led the national carrier for six and a half years and has been credited with banking record profits.

His business credentials put him firmly in the bracket of potential National leader - and therefore prime minister.

Despite that, his candidacy is likely to help - and not harm - Bridges' current leadership, as his decision to stand bolsters the opposition's chances of winning next year, and making Bridges the prime minister.

However, should National lose the election, Luxon will be firmly in the leadership conversation, as acknowledged by National MP Nikki Kaye.

"Anything can happen in politics," she told television station Three on Friday.

"He's been a significant business leader. He's a huge talent."

Bridges declined comment on Luxon's announcement, saying he wouldn't discuss it "until the process is complete and candidates have been announced".

Perhaps the strangest reaction to Luxon's announcement came from John Edwards, New Zealand's Privacy Commissioner.

Edwards wrote on Twitter that Luxon corresponded in all of his emails with "blue, comic sans font", leading others to declare him "not fit" for parliament based on his use of the child-like typeface.