Home » 5 companies linked to Siza Mzimela, the first Black woman to start an airline

5 companies linked to Siza Mzimela, the first Black woman to start an airline

by Feyisayo Ajayi
Siza Mzimela

Siza Mzimela, a trailblazing South African businesswoman and aviation leader, made history in 2015 as the first black woman in Africa to launch an airline, Fly Blue Crane. 

Her journey began at South African Airways (SAA) in the late 1990s, where her rise to CEO from 2010 to 2012 marked a pinnacle in her career. Under her leadership, SAA expanded globally and earned her a seat on the board of governors at the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

In 2015, Mzimela ventured into entrepreneurship with Fly Blue Crane, facing challenges but showcasing her resilience. Despite the airline entering business rescue in 2016, she rebounded in 2018, leading SA Express.

Her career took an unexpected turn in 2020 as CEO of Transnet’s freight rail division, facing a year-long struggle. In 2023, she resigned amid changes at Transnet. Mzimela’s narrative reflects not just professional triumphs but resilience, inspiring all who dare to dream and break molds in the aviation industry.

Billionaires.Africa unveils five businesses owned by Mzimela, shedding light on the multifaceted impact she has had on the aviation industry. Each company not only mirrors her strategic brilliance but also embodies her unwavering commitment to diversity, transformative leadership, excellence, and positive change in the aviation industry.

  1. Fly Blue Crane
    In 2015, Mzimela broke barriers by founding Fly Blue Crane, marking her historic entry as the first Black woman to establish an airline in South Africa. Despite facing financial challenges leading to the suspension of flights in February 2017, Fly Blue Crane remains a testament to Mzimela’s groundbreaking role in the aviation industry.
  1. Zurich Insurance Company SA
    As an independent board member at Zurich Insurance Company SA Ltd, Mzimela brings her extensive experience in transportation and logistics to the forefront. Her focus on risk assessment and mitigation contributes to Zurich’s robust risk management practices, offering invaluable insights for long-term growth strategies. Mzimela’s dedication to corporate governance, compliance, and advocacy for diversity enriches Zurich’s organizational culture.
  1. Blue Crane Aviation Services Group
    Founded by Mzimela in 2014, Blue Crane Aviation Services Group made history as the first majority Black- and woman-owned airline globally. Despite facing challenges that led to the discontinuation of flights in 2017, Mzimela’s entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to diversity have left a lasting impact on the aviation industry.
  1. South African Express Airways (SAX)
    Taking the helm of SAX in 2018, Mzimela showcased transformative leadership, steering the financially struggling airline towards profitability. As the first Black woman CEO of SAA, Mzimela’s legacy embodies resilience, vision, and progress in South African skies. Her efforts included financial stabilization, debt restructuring, securing new contracts, and implementing cost-cutting measures.
  1. Multiloads Pty Ltd
    Appointed as CEO in 2014, Mzimela brought transformative leadership to Multiloads Pty Ltd, a logistics and transportation company. Her strategic vision and management skills played a pivotal role in the company’s growth, focusing on expansion, operational efficiency, and market penetration. Mzimela’s tenure witnessed innovation and modernization, leveraging technology to streamline operations and improve efficiency.

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