June 5, the RwandAir CEO Yvonne Manzi Makolo has been elected as Chair of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Board of Governors.
The decision has been taken in the 79th IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Istanbul, Türkiye, from 4 to 6 June, 2023.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), founded in 1945, is the trade association for the world’s airlines, representing some 300 airlines or 83% of the world’s air traffic. It operates in over 120 countries.
Makolo who is going to head the Board of Governors (BoG) for a one-year term, is the 81st chair of the IATA BoG and the first woman to take on this role and she has served on the BoG since November 2020.
As per IATA’s website, Makolo also succeeds Pegasus Airlines Chairperson of the Board Mehmet Tevfik Nane who will continue to serve on the BoG.
“I am honored and pleased to take on this important role. IATA plays a critical role for all airlines; big and small, various business models, and in all corners of the world,” said Makolo.
She goes on to explain how leading a medium-sized airline in Africa gives her a unique perspective on issues that airlines hold in common.
Regarding her experience, she instantly said what will be foremost on her agenda.
“At the top of the agenda are de-carbonization, improving safety, the transformation to modern airline retailing, and ensuring we have cost-efficient infrastructure. I am particularly pleased to be taking on this role as IATA launches Focus Africa with the aim of unifying the continent’s stakeholders so that together we can strengthen the contribution of aviation to Africa’s social and economic development,” said Makolo
Makolo started her aviation career in 2017 when she was appointed as RwandAir’s Deputy CEO in Charge of Corporate Affairs. She was named CEO in April 2018.
Yvonne Makolo brought 11 years of commercial expertise to her current role, having joined telecommunications company MTN Rwanda in 2006, rising to the positions of Chief Marketing Officer and Acting CEO. Under her leadership, RwandAir has become one of Africa’s fastest growing airlines with a fleet of 13 modern aircraft. She has led cultural change at the airline with a focus on inclusion and diversity and growing the number of women in under-represented roles.
Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General expressed her willingness of working with Yvonne Makolo to tackle different challenges.
“I look forward to working with Yvonne as we tackle the important challenges of sustainability, rebuilding the aviation workforce while growing diversity and reinforcing the global standards that are so critical for efficient connectivity,” he said.
IATA announced that Pieter Elbers, CEO of Indian largest passenger airline (IndiGo), will serve as Chair of the Board of Governors from June 2024, following Makolo’s term.
The Chair committee which consists of a maximum of 10 Board oversees IATA’s financial performance and governance and has overall responsibility for industry policy.
IATA is governed by a General Meeting and an executive committee, known as the Board of Governors. The Board’s work is supported by nine Advisory Councils. Traffic Conferences have also been established to develop and maintain standards and for matters relating to the relationship between airlines and IATA accredited agents and other intermediaries.
The General Meeting is vested with the ultimate authority to exercise all of the powers of IATA.
At its annual meeting (the “AGM”), it elects the Board on recommendations of the Nominating committee, approves membership fees and dues and financial statements, considers reports of the Board, Traffic Conferences and Advisory Councils, formalizes industry positions through resolutions, etc.
Each member airline gets a vote at General Meetings, with decision usually being taken at a simple majority except for some matters where a greater majority is required.