Meet Siza Mzimela – The First Black Woman To Own an Airline
By Robert Stitt
The United States prides itself on being a land of opportunities, and in many ways it is. We look at countries like South Africa, which not long ago was segregated through the laws of Apartheid, and we are glad that we are so much further along than the land of the great Nelson Mandela. However, every now and then we need to stop and ask ourselves just how far along we really are, and we have to wonder if many of the once oppressed countries we helped free are not passing us up in the area of civil rights and opportunity.
For example, one thing that South Africa now has that America does not is a black female owner of an airline. According to Timeslive, the country’s newest airline, Fly Blue Crane, was started by the company’s CEO, Siza Mzimela, a Black woman who saw a niche market and decided to capitalize on it. “We aim to make our mark serving the increasingly commercially significant provincial and regional capitals. Our aim in the coming years is to make air travel an altogether better and more rewarding experience in Southern Africa‚” she said.
Mzimela had the vision of giving customers what they truly want in airline travel, which she realized was more than just low fares, but reliability and consistency.
Theunis Potgieter‚ the company COO, noted that customers want consistency, frequency, professionalism, and reliability‚ as well as softer touch-points which include complimentary quality meals.”
One of the ideas Mzimela had to accomplish this was to stick to one type of aircraft, a 50-seat Embraer Regional Jet 145 (ERJ). By using just one aircraft type with the same configuration, the crews will be able to use interchangeable parts, the same tools, and so forth.
Jerome Simelane, the airline’s Commercial General Manager said, “By using what we have learned over the years about international airline best practice‚ we have also created a cost structure which allows us to offer competitive fares without cutting any corners on quality‚ safety and reliability.”
During the initial phase of the airline, the flights will originate from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg and fly to other cities in South Africa – Bloemfontein, Kimberley, and Nelspruit. According to the airline’s details, flights will go to Bloemfontein five times a day during the week‚ twice on Saturdays, and three times on Sundays. Kimberley will be served three times a day during the week, once on Saturdays, and twice on Sundays. Flights to Nelspruit will leave twice daily Monday to Friday‚ with one flight on Saturday and one on Sunday.