WELLINGTON, Nov 30 (Reuters) - New Zealand's main opposition
National Party on Tuesday selected a former Air New Zealand
chief executive as its new leader to face Labour Prime Minister
Jacinda Ardern in the next election in 2023.
Christopher Luxon, who helmed Air New Zealand for seven
years until September 2019, had long been seen as the likely
next leader of the conservative National party, which faced its
worst defeat in the 2020 election.
He becomes the party's fifth leader in just four years after
Judith Collins, who headed the National's campaign in 2020, was
dumped last week.
Luxon's elevation will put pressure on Ardern, whose
popularity has taken a hit in recent weeks due to a perceived
failure in quickly vaccinating the population and growing anger
over her government's tough pandemic curbs and border closures.
Ardern has enjoyed enormous personal support but a recent
1News Colmar Brunton poll showed her rating as preferred prime
minister had fallen 5 points from September to 39%.
"We believe New Zealanders need a government of action not
rhetoric," Luxon said in a statement.
"I came to politics because I know how to solve problems and
get things done," he said.
The 51-year-old businessman held senior roles at global
consumer goods firm Unilever before moving to Air New Zealand
and leading the airline between 2012 and 2019, during which time
it produced consistent profits.
He was tapped by Ardern in 2018 to lead an advisory council
focused on improving business confidence and to help with
reforming a slowing economy.
He was elected to Parliament for the Botany electorate in
the last election.
(Reporting by Praveen Menon; editing by Richard Pullin)