Monday, 12 March 2018

BAHAMAS: Meet Sherrexcia ‘Rexy’ Rolle A Black Woman Growing Western Air

Black women are making telling contributions to the aviation sector, an industry which is largely male-dominated.

The number of women working as pilots keeps rising and the interesting thing is these black women are now calling the shots in the industry.

Apart from owning some of these airlines, these women are also managers and operators.

Sherrexcia ‘Rexy’ Rolle is one of the youngest women to take up this role.

Coming from a small town called Mastic Point, Andros in the Bahamas, the 29-year-old is the Vice President of Operations and General Counsel for Western Air, a Bahamas-based black-owned aviation business.

Even though the company was founded by her parents – Rex and Shandrice Rolle, Rexy has been holding the fort for the business which started in 2001.

The company has since expanded thanks to Rexy. With a net worth of over $90 million, West Air is one of the largest privately-owned airline company in the Bahamas.

In an interview Rexy says her parents started the airline after realizing that some people in certain islands were finding it difficult to travel around as they would want to.

Even though we have a very efficient government airline in the Bahamas, there were certain islands that were not being targeted for our consumers to have a convenient way to travel.

This is where our airline comes in and once we recognized those gaps in the market, we were able to convince our investors why our airline is needed, she said.

Rexy’s parents did not have it easy setting up the airline though. Her father who was a pilot at the time and her mother had to save money and do research with various aircraft brokers.

My parents were eventually fortunate enough through faith, their persistence and dedication in their business plan to receive offers from two aviation investors from the U.S.

From that moment moving forward, Western Air Limited was a dream that is now a reality, she explained.

Touching on some of the challenges the company faced when it started operating, Rexy said their major issue was time management and delays.

What the company did was to find out why these issues were happening and come up with an amicable solution.

Once my team and I began fine-tuning arrival and departure times, our performance began to improve.

Our ticket sales increased also, she said.

Currently, there are various black women holding senior-level positions in so many companies but the worrying issue of sexual harassment and discrimination still persist.

Nevertheless, Rexy has been making strides in her field.

The minute I sense a meeting has turned beyond the level of business, I shut it down immediately.

I learned that if you want people to take you seriously, especially in this industry where I have to constantly negotiate claims and deal with serious regulations, you must be confident in what you know and only do business with people who are focused on the mission in sealing the deal, she explains.

Western Airlines has been increasing its routes across the Caribbean, and now has direct flights to Haiti, Cuba, and Jamaica.

For now, the company will be increasing its online and social media presence to increase its awareness and promote its services internationally, Rexy says.

Western Air Limited is the largest privately owned airline in the Bahamas.

Western Air has its headquarters on the grounds of San Andros Airport in Andros Island, Bahamas.

The airline was established in 2001 by husband-and-wife team, Rex J. Rolle and Shandrice Woodside- Rolle.

Currently, Mr. and Mrs. Rolle serve as president & CEO and COO respectively.
Their daughter, Sherrexcia 'Rexy' Rolle serves as Vice President of Operations and General Counsel. Western Air now operates from their new second hub at Grand Bahama International Airport.

Which will serve as its main northern hub. opening new direct routes to direct flights to Haiti, Jamaica, Turks & Caicos, and eventually Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, Florida.

The new $4 million state-of-the-art Western Air terminal will be housing Western Air’s terminal, corporate office and maintenance facility. Western said that their fleet will increase more rapidly due to the rising demand in airlift.

Western Air offers daily flights between Nassau and San Andros, Congo Town, Bimini, Abaco and Freeport on Grand Bahama.

It also operates corporate and touristic charters throughout The Bahamas, the Caribbean, including Haiti and Cuba, as well as South America.

Western Air has also taken over Air Jamaica routes to Nassau The carrier said it has been granted a charter licence by the Jamaican Government and the Jamaican Civil Aviation Authority to operate daily flights from Kingston and Montego Bay to Nassau.

In addition, it said that it was granted a schedule and charter licence by the Bahamian Government and its civil aviation agency to operate flights from the Bahamas to Jamaica.

It will fly between Kingston and Nassau from Sundays to Fridays and between Montego Bay and Nassau twice weekly, on Fridays and Sundays.

Flying direct, from Jamaica to Bahamas eliminates the need to travel through the United States and requiring a United States visa.the airline noted.

This was expected to be welcomed by travelers who would otherwise have no direct flights to and from Jamaica when Air Jamaica discontinued service to that country.

October 8, 2013 marked the inaugural Western Air flight from the Bahamas to Cuba, building what officials hope would be a bridge between the two countries to better facilitate trade and commerce.

The aircraft can seat 33 passengers and is expected to carry out one complete route, once a day, three times a week courtesy of a partnership between Western Air and Blue Bahamas Crossing (BCB).

Captain Wolf Seyfret, Western Air’s Director of Operations, said a demand for such a route does exist based on statistics from other airlines and past services that Western Air has done.

Our average load has been 22 passengers. We’ve had full flights, we’ve had flights with 19 passengers but the average load has been 22 passengers. So yes, from that I can say there definitely is a demand there he said.

He explained that Western Air and BCB have very diligently looked at the market and decided the two carriers that presently provide the service are not able to satisfy demand, leaving room in the market for Western Air to step in.

We can say from observing the current levels with Cubana and Bahamasair there’s a lot of passengers being turned away because of the load factors on both airlines so definitely there is a demand for that service he said.

Mr Seyfret added that the privately owned Western Air can definitely be more flexible than the two government-owned airlines.

Zena Burland, BCB chairwoman, explained that the creation of this new service is mainly geared towards encouraging business opportunities and trade relations between the Bahamas and Cuba.

She noted that transportation remains one of the major barriers that prevents the Bahamas’ movement for commerce, trade, and wider networking in the region.

Blue Crossing Bahamas saw this barrier to regional trade and initiated a strategic solution she said. To this end, it focused on its nearest trading and regional neighbor, the Republic of Cuba.

The Bahamas shares regional trade agreements with the Republic of Cuba. The goals then became to stimulate and encourage the flow of trade and commerce at all sectors of industry thereby creating opportunities for the citizen within the regional areas.

The success of these activities of course needs to be secured and supported by offering a scheduled air service to the republic of Cuba from the Bahamas

Therefore providing a bridge for Bahamians, Cubans, and those from the US with full complete approval to visit Cuba for vacation, education, health care and family visits.

Likewise for them to also visit the Bahamas and other regional areas. BCB is already engaged with businesses that are interested in the new service, Ms Burland said, adding that BCB and Western Air recognize the need for reliable air transportation service between the Bahamas and other countries in the region.

They are providing these air link services to provide the venue for large scale development and hotel development to reach its strategic goals by positioning itself to support these developments as we seek to create our strategic partnering program to enhance and promote regional developments.

The Western Air service leaves Nassau for Havana at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. It leaves Havana on its return trip to Nassau at 8:15 pm the same day.

Western Air unveiled its new 6 million dollar passenger terminal and maintenance facility on Freeport, Grand Bahama.

Due to high demand in airlift the airline will be introducing new destinations and reopening old ones.



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