The Face Of RwandAir
Joan Obasi, a Senior First Officer with RwandAir. Captain Obasi, a native Nigerian began at Phoenix East Aviation. She initially began her quest in flight as a flight attendant before becoming Nigeria’s youngest woman to become a pilot. Upon becoming the youngest female pilot in Nigeria, she first flew for Arik Air, flying the Lagos-Johannesburg flights. Currently as Senior First Officer with RwandAir, she has become the face of the brand. In the midst of the 1994 genocide that totally devastated the country of
Rwanda, its flagship carrier at that time, Air Rwanda ceased its operations amidst the ethnic turmoil. A host of private companies showed interest in partnering with the government and the Uganda based SA Alliance Air ran the company from 1997 to 2000. After SA Alliance ceased operations, the government Rwanda took over the Rwandan operations and then re-branded the airline, to ensure its continuity. RwandAir began operations on December 1, 2002 as the new national carrier for Rwanda under the name Rwandair Express. In June 2009, the airline officially re-branded from Rwandair Express to RwandAir, because the new name implies a large, serious airline, while the "Express" in the former name implied a small regional operation. In May 2010, Rene Janata became the CEO, introducing a frequent flyer program and developing the airline to become a network carrier. In October 2010, John Mirenge became the new CEO of RwandAir. Rwandair is 99% owned by the Government of Rwanda. Yvonne Manzi Makolo is the current CEO. Makolo was promoted from deputy CEO, in charge of Corporate Affairs, in April 2018 by Rwandan President Kagame. She replaced acting CEO Colonel Chance Ndagano.
Captain Obasi is also affiliated with an organization that encourages young African girls on the main continent of Africa. African Girls Fly Too, is an informative and skills development education boot camp for high school and higher institution learners who have an interest in the aviation and aerospace industry and math, science, engineering, art and technology-related careers. The education program is designed to expose prospecting aviators to a world of opportunities, while highlighting the achievements of men and women in aviation and aerospace. Objectives of the A.G.F.T Aviation and Aerospace camp
• To create an environment where learners from diverse backgrounds, with a common interest in aviation and aerospace, can meet and engage.
• To provide a fun, yet educational program, giving the learners an opportunity to discover more about aviation and aerospace opportunities.
• To encourage learners to pursue science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics-related careers.
Currently there is a global push to promote aviation and aerospace to women. Many barriers are being broken by women in all categories of aviation, from military/commercial/general to corporate leadership, to engineering and design, as well as a host of other aspects of aviation. There is also a shortage of African pilots period and women like Captain Obasi are filling those voids.