IATA Appoints its First Woman Chair

Yvonne Manzi Makolo and Mehmet Nane

Rwanda's flag carrier RwandAir's chief executive officer (CEO) Yvonne Manzi Makolo became the first woman chairperson of the board of governors of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Mehmet T. Nane, Chairperson of the Board of Pegasus Airlines, completed his one-year term of office and handed over the role of Chair of the IATA Board of Governors to Yvonne Manzi Makolo.

Yvonne Manzi Makolo took over the position at the 79th Annual Ordinary General Assembly Meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) held in Istanbul. Mehmet T. Nane remains as a member of the Executive Committee for one more year.



“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. Leading a medium-sized airline in Africa gives me a unique perspective on issues that airlines hold in common. At the top of the agenda are decarbonization, 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 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.



Mehmet T. Nane said, "It was a great honour and a privileged experience for me to assume such an important responsibility as the Chair of the Board of Governors and to become the first Turkish Chairperson of IATA during a very challenging period in the aviation industry. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the entire IATA team, starting with Willie Walsh, IATA's Director General. Now, I am also honoured, because Yvonne Manzi Makolo, CEO of RwandAir, who will take over from me, will be the first woman Chair of IATA. I wish her tremendous success in her work to support the sustainable development of the global aviation industry."

Mehmet T. Nane, who took over the position of Chair of the IATA Board of Governors from Robin Hayes, CEO of JetBlue Airways, at the 78th IATA Annual Ordinary General Assembly Meeting held in Doha, during his one-year term of office, worked towards IATA's goals of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, increasing women’s representation in the industry, and advancing the industry further. In addition to these efforts, with his belief and trust in the Turkish aviation industry, he has contributed to the organisation of IATA's European and global meetings in Türkiye with his intensive efforts since the day he took office.

“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. I want to thank Mehmet for his strong support and leadership over the past year as the industry emerged from the COVID-19 and in particular, his encouragement in working for greater gender diversity,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.


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