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Wellington Airport boss resigns

Wellington Airport boss resigns

The man who led Wellington International Airport's controversial Wellywood sign campaign is stepping down as airport chief executive.

» Special Reports | Monday, July 25, 2011 • Air News Times
Steven Fitzgerald has headed the airport since January 2008. He is moving to Sydney to be closer to his family and will take up a full-time position with HRL Morrison & Co, with responsibility for airport investment.

HRL Morrison & Co is a specialist investment management firm that manages Infratil, Wellington Airport's major shareholder.

Mr Fitzgerald will remain on the Wellington Airport board, but is set to pass on his local CEO responsibilities on August 8.

Airport chief operating officer John Howarth will stand in as acting CEO while an international recruitment search is conducted to find Mr Fitzgerald's successor.

"My time in Wellington has been fantastic," Mr Fitzgerald said this morning in a statement.  "This really is a wonderful city and I look forward to being a frequent visitor to keep in touch with the many people I have come to know during my four years at the Airport.''

As CEO, Mr Fitzgerald has driven the controversial campaign to erect a giant "Wellywood" sign on airport-owned land near the Miramar cutting. The proposal sparked a public outcry and twice forced the airport to backtrack on its decision by appointing a panel to consider alternative sign ideas.

Mr Fitzgerald has also overseen several major airport projects in the last four years, including the unique copper-plated terminal extension, the Rock. The Airport's 2030 Master Plan has been finalised under his watch with several of its proposed projects now underway, including the redevelopment of the general aviation area.

A press statement said Mr Fitzgerald's tenure came during a been a difficult and volatile time for the economy, "but Wellington Airport has shown considerable resilience in terms of passenger numbers, and new commercial initiatives have allowed earnings to continue to grow".

David Newman, chairman of Wellington International Airport Limited and Infratil, said Mr Fitzgerald had brought a wealth of experience to a highly complex and dynamic industry.

"While we will miss Steve in Wellington, we are very pleased that he will not be too far away and will be able to play a greater role in our other airport interests in addition to remaining a part of the WIAL Board."

Mr Fitzgerald previously ran Infratil's European Airports. He joined Infratil in January 2005 from Sydney Airport.
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