Yvonne Makolo Manzi Andrew is the CEO of RwandAir , the epitome of the strength of women in leadership. She has moved the National airline from grace to more grace and believes women have greater potential that the aviation industry should tap into.
Who is Yvonne Makolo?
Makolo was appointed CEO of Rwandair in 2018. Photo: Rwandair
Yvonne Makolo is a Rwandan. She has lived in Rwanda and Canada and worked as an IT specialist and software developer in both countries. In 2006, she joined MTN and, in no time, became the Chief Marketing Officer. She was then appointed to serve as the MTN Chief Executive Officer but in an acting capacity. In 2017, she was appointed as Deputy CEO in charge of Corporate Affairs.
Her relentless service in this capacity satisfied her supervisors to appoint her yet again as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of RwandAir in 2018. She is a great inspiration to many, but particularly to women and young girls that aspire to build careers in the aviation industry.
During the 78th IATA 2022 AGM that took place in Doha, Qatar, it was announced that the Chief Executive Officer of RwandAir was to assume power as the first female chair of the Board of Governors. She will be appointed during the 2023 AGM that will happen June 4-6th, 2023, in Istanbul, hosted by Pegasus Airlines.
This first appointment of a female chair has seen many seeking to discover more about Makolo; it is all good news! The well-composed Information Technology specialist has risen through the ranks of leadership both in business management and aviation.
Her achievements at RwandAir
Rwandair has a 60% partnership with Qatar Airways. Photo: Qatar Airways
RwandAir has registered numerous developments and achievements under CEO Makolo’s lead. One of the highlights of her leadership was in the 2020-21 pandemic. She is the lioness that braved the storm and saw opportunities where others saw disaster. RwandAir was soaring through, expanding its routes, including adding Lubumbashi and Goma in DRC, procuring more airbus A330s, signing deals (with Qatar Airways).
Together with her strong team, she kept RwandAir afloat, ensuring the uncompromising safety of the airline’s passengers and employees. Her team was firm on the Standard Operating Procedures, waiving flights where they deemed it necessary, refunding booking fees, and giving their customers all the vital advice on flying to their destinations. There was even an updated website that helped see to it that customers were reliably informed.
The airline has upheld hospitality, trade, and tourism, ensuring profitability and capital growth. In June 2022, the RwandAir CEO was recognized by the International Hospitality Institute as one of the 100 most important people in Global Hospitality. The airline currently has a fleet size of 12. Against this background, one can confidently assert that IATA will achieve much more under Yvonne Makolo’s leadership.
Makolo at the Aviation Africa Summit
In her presentation at the recently concluded 2022 Aviation Africa Summit, which was hosted in Rwanda, Makolo revealed that she is passionate about African airlines developing operations on thinner routes, developing trade and tourism, and cutting the cost of air transport in this region. She commented,
“RwandAir is dedicated to opening up Africa to the continent’s expanding aviation sector, as well as providing more routes and incredibly cheap pricing for all our clients across Africa and beyond.”
She continued to express her pride in the fact that RwandAir supported the aviation summit. She believes that with diversity and a single African aviation market, the industry will fully recover. The beautiful lady with a stunning smile sows seeds of progress wherever she steps. She is greatly convinced that having women in senior positions in aviation will multiply the excellence therein.
During the Aviation Africa Summit, Makolo was on a panel of Aviation leaders tasked to discuss the issues of today and tomorrow. She talked about how the airline ventured more into cargo and repatriation flights during COVID to keep the airline afloat. In addition, she hinted at the master class plan, and the state-of-the-art Bugesera International Airport, which is a result of one of the biggest aviation partnerships on the African continent.
The new airport holds great promise for Rwandair. Photo: Zutari Architects
Makolo brings over 11 years of commercial experience to her current position. Her airline operates a fleet of 12 aircraft (1 Airbus A330-300, 1 Airbus A330-200, 4 Boeing 737-800, 2 Dash 8-400, 2 CRJ900ER, and 2 Boeing 737-700) serving 26 destinations in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. RwandAir is one of the fastest-growing airlines in Africa.
Also announced at the event was the intention of Rwandair to join the oneworld alliance, alongside its partner Qatar Airways. CEO of Qatar, Akbar Al Baker, noted that he would help the airline to do whatever was necessary to ensure its place in the alliance. This standing within a global alliance will only further Rwandair’s footprint in the region and beyond.