About AASA    |    Executive Team

Advocate Mandi E.P. Samson    |   AASA Chairperson   

Advocate (Adv.) Mandi E.P. Samson serves as the Chairperson of AASA. She has also served as Acting Managing Director of Air Namibia since August 2015. She previously served in the Office of the Attorney-General of Namibia, and later was employed as General Manager: Corporate and Legal Services at Namibia Airports Company (NAC).

Samson has served as the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF); as a Commissioner of the Law Reform and Development Commission (LRDC); as a Member of the Cabinet-appointed Task Team on the De Beers Sales Agreement; as a Member of the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) on the Orange River and Maritime Boundaries; and as a member of the Committee evaluating applications for Fishing Rights of Exploitation, amongst others.

Samson has served as the Chairperson of the Board of state-owned Epangelo Mining Company (Pty), Chairperson of Epangelo Husab (Pty) Ltd and Chairperson of Epangelo Gold (Pty) Ltd. To-date she continues to sit on the Namibian Mining Industry company Boards as an ordinary member, and also serves as a Commissioner of the Minerals Ancillary Rights Commission (MARC).

In the aviation sector, Samson assisted the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in developing and drafting the “Common Regulations of Competition of Air Transport Services within the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the SADC.” She also assisted SADC with the drawing up of the “Guidelines, Provisions and Procedures for the Implementation of Air Transport Competition within COMESA, EAC, and SADC.” She was also the consultant to the African Union (AU) tasked with drafting the “Regulations of Competition for Air Transport in Africa and Arbitration Procedures”.

Samson, holds a Bachelor of Law/Juris from the University of Namibia, an LLB (Hons)/Deans Merit List from the  University of Cape Town, a Master of Law in International Air and Space Law (LLM)/Cum Laude from Leiden University, an MBA from the Commonwealth Open University, and is completing a Doctorate in Philosophy at Leiden University.

Miles van der Molen    |   AASA Deputy Chairperson   

Miles van der Molen serves as the Deputy Chairperson of AASA. He is also the Chief Executive Officer and founder of CemAir

CemAir was founded in 2005 with three Beechcraft 1900’s bought on auction and now operates as a world class IOSA registered airline. CemAir owns, operates and maintains a fleet of 22 aircraft, including ten 50-seat CRJ jets, two Dash-8 Q300’s, one Dash-8 100 and 9 Beechcraft 1900D’s.   Based at OR Tambo International and a member of IATA, CemAir operates as a full service scheduled domestic airline to 10 destinations in South Africa, including Margate, Bloemfontein, Plettenberg Bay, Hoedspruit, George, Cape Town and Sishen in the Northern Cape. 

Born in Johannesburg, van der Molen completed his private pilot’s license (PPL) at the age of 17, and his commercial pilots license (CPL) at 22 years. 

Van der Molen holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Witwatersrand, and completed the 3rd year of an MBA (also at Wits). 

Chris Zweigenthal    |   AASA CEO   

Chris Zweigenthal serves as the Chief Executive Officer of AASA. From 1978 until 1988, he worked in the construction division of Transnet, and was responsible for the project management and construction of several large capital projects. At the end of 1988, he joined SAA, where he held senior positions in the Petroleum Affairs, Flight Operations and Marketing Planning departments. 

From November 1998 until October 2000, Zweigenthal was appointed Managing Director of SA Alliance Air based in Kampala, Uganda. In November 2000, he was appointed General Manager Global Passenger Services at SAA, and later Vice President of the same department, until he left SAA in November 2001.

In February 2002, Zweigenthal joined AASA as Deputy Chief Executive, and was appointed Chief Executive Officer in March 2009. He is also a Director of Aviation Coordination Services Limited, a company responsible for several airport services managed on behalf of all airlines operating in South Africa.

Zweigenthal holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Witwatersrand, and a Graduate Diploma in Engineering from the same university.

Vivendra Lochan    |   AASA COO  

Vivendra (Vees) Lochan serves as the Chief Operating Officer at AASA.  In early 1981, he joined SAA, where he held  positions in Sales and Marketing, and the Africa Route Management Division. During his tenure at SAA, he attended and completed various executive aviation industry-related courses.

In 1993, Lochan was appointed SAA's Regional Manger, Middle East and Gulf, based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He was tasked with the setting-up of SAA's operations between Dubai and Johannesburg. In November 1998, he moved to India to be based in Mumbai where he was responsible for SAA's India and the Indian Sub-Continent route. Lochan returned to Johannesburg at the end of 2000 where he held a senior position in Domestic Marketing Support. He left SAA in August 2001 to pursue an interest in the tourism, investment and real estate sectors.

In August 2010, Lochan joined AASA as Chief Operating Officer. He represents AASA and its membership on regulatory committees and industry forums. Lochan is also an Alternate Director and Chairperson of the Audit Committee of Aviation Coordination Services Limited, a company responsible for several airport services managed on behalf of all airlines operating in South Africa.

Lochan holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Business Economics and Economics from the University of Durban-Westville, and an MBA degree from the same University.

Vuyani Jarana    |   AASA Executive Committee    

Vuyani Jarana serves as an AASA Executive Committee member. He was appointed CEO of the South African Airways Group (SAA) on 1 November 2017, after an exemplary career with Vodacom mobile communications company.

In 2012, he was appointed as Chief Officer Vodacom Business, which included the integration of Vodacom Business Africa into the Enterprise Portfolio. The integration was successful and defined a new operating model for Enterprise for the Vodacom Group. 

At Vodacom, he focused on building a strong team and developing technological capabilities that would see the Group become an industry leader. During his 22 year career in the telecoms industry he held numerous positions and received several accolades, including the Vodacom’s CEO’s Award for unearthing a major software defect in a radio system together with his team. He also ran some of Vodacom’s subsidiaries and start-ups, turning them into successful business ventures.

Jarana holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Transkei (now Walter Sisulu University); and an MBA from the University of Stellenbosch Business School. In 2017, he was selected and awarded the University of Stellenbosch Business School’s Alumnus of the Year.

Rodger Foster    |   AASA Executive Committee    

Rodger Foster serves as an AASA Executive Committee member. He is also the CEO and MD of SA Airlink (Pty) Limited, serving in this position for over 20 years.  

Foster was the Chairperson of AASA from 1994 to 2000; and is a trustee of the Regenesys Foundation, a registered South African Public Benefit Organisation, an intiative of the Regenesys Business School. The Regenesys Foundation assists individuals and organisations achieve personal and organisational goals by enhancing their management and leadership potential via free access to quality tertiary education; and the creation of entrepreneurs through the Regenesys Free Business Education programme.

Foster holds a Bachelor of Building Sciences from the University of Witwatersrand. A keen aviator, he also holds a commercial pilot license (CPL) with Instrument Rating. 

Nic Vlok    |   AASA Executive Committee    

Nic Vlok serves as an AASA Executive Committee member. He is also the Acting CEO for low-cost airline Mango Airlines Before taking the helm as CEO he served as General Manager Operations at Mango where his responsibilities included: airport and flight operations, engineering and maintenance, and safety, security and quality management systems. 

Prior to this assignment he was contracted to a number of South African and African airlines developing and implementing expansion strategies, including specific commercial aspects, such as the development of network strategies and short-term demand stimulation, and capacity management, as well as having an ongoing involvement in the identification and development of management capacity within a broad range of major South African companies.

Before pursuing a consulting career Vlok was Director of Airline Operations, Service Delivery Director and Technical and Information Technology Director at Comair Limited. In these roles he implemented a British Airways franchise, managed significant route and capacity expansion, and project managed the introduction of a successful low cost airline with web-based distribution.

Prior to Vlok's tenure with Comair Limited Vlok was a Senior General Manager with SAA. During this phase of his career he served in a number of management positions in technical, finance and marketing. He project managed the SAA part of the transition to Transnet (Pty) Ltd and led a privatization task team. During the latter part of his career with SAA he implemented a passenger marketing strategy that repositioned the airline in response to the deregulation of the domestic and international aviation markets in South Africa.

Vlok has served on the Boards of South African Express Airways (SA Express), the Aerospace Industries Federation, and Air Chefs, and was Chairperson of the Board of Fabtravel, an early attempt at Black Economic Empowerment in the South African travel industry. He has also served on the South African Government Advisory Board for Domestic and International Aviation Policy and the Policy Review Forum for Aircraft Noise and Emissions.

Erik Venter    |   AASA Executive Committee    

Erik Venter serves as an AASA Executive Committee member. He is also the CEO at Comair Limited. He joined  Comair in 1996 as Financial Manager, and has held various positions within the company including Commercial Manager, Commercial Director and Financial Director. In July of 2006 Erik was appointed as Joint CEO of Comair and served in this position until December 2011 when he assumed the sole responsibility for the company as CEO. 

Venter has also served a term as Chairman of AASA, and and is currently a director on the Board of Imperial Air Cargo (BidAir Cargo aquired Imperial Air Cargo in 2014).

Venter holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Cape Town,  and Post Graduate Diploma in Accounting from the same University. He completed his articles with KPMG qualifying as a Chartered Accountant (CA) (SA).