Yvonne Manzi Makolo Chairs IATA Board of Governors
RwandAir CEO Yvonne Manzi Makolo has officially taken on the role of Chair of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Board of Governors (BoG) for a one-year tenure. This announcement came after the conclusion of the 79th IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Istanbul, Türkiye on June 5th. Makolo, the 81st Chair of the IATA BoG, is notably the first woman to hold this position. She has been a member of the BoG since November 2020, and she succeeds Mehmet Tevfik Nane, Chairperson of the Board of Pegasus Airlines, who will remain on the BoG.
Expressing her gratitude, Makolo expressed her honor and satisfaction in assuming this important role. She acknowledged the crucial role that IATA plays for airlines of all sizes, business models, and global locations. Drawing from her experience leading a medium-sized airline in Africa, she emphasized her unique perspective on common airline issues. Makolo highlighted decarbonization, safety improvements, the transition to modern airline retailing, and cost-efficient infrastructure as key areas of focus. She also expressed her enthusiasm for leading IATA’s Focus Africa initiative, which aims to unite stakeholders across the continent to enhance aviation’s contribution to Africa’s social and economic development.
Makolo’s aviation career began in 2017 when she was appointed as RwandAir’s Deputy CEO in Charge of Corporate Affairs. In April 2018, she assumed the role of CEO. With 11 years of commercial expertise, including positions at MTN Rwanda, a telecommunications company, Makolo has played a pivotal role in RwandAir’s growth. Under her leadership, the airline has rapidly expanded its fleet to include 13 modern aircraft. She has been instrumental in driving cultural change within the company, emphasizing inclusion, diversity, and the increased representation of women in underrepresented roles.
Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, expressed his anticipation for working with Makolo on key challenges such as sustainability, rebuilding the aviation workforce, promoting diversity, and reinforcing global standards for efficient connectivity. He commended Mehmet Nane for his support and leadership during the past year, particularly in navigating the industry through the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and promoting gender diversity.
In other news, IATA also announced that Pieter Elbers, CEO of IndiGo, will assume the position of Chair of the BoG from June 2024, succeeding Makolo at the end of her term.