Events    |    AASA AGA 2019    |    Speaker Profiles

Where: LUX* Saint Gilles Hotel, Saint Gilles Les Bains, Reunion
When: 10 to 13 October 2019


Welcoming Address

Marie Joseph Malé  Air Austral, Chairman and CEO

French leader, born in Cameroon, Marie Joseph Malé has served as the Chairman and CEO of Air Austral, a leading airline company of the Indian Ocean based in Reunion Island, since April 2012.

With over 30 years of international experience in the air transport sector assuming key positions, Marie Joseph was, in particular, the first CEO of SkyTeam Airline.

A strong supporter of air connectivity and development by the search for synergies, in May 2015 Marie Joseph introduced and led the creation of the Vanilla Alliance, a cornerstone of air cooperation in the Indian Ocean.

Marie Joseph pilots the Air Austral strategic partnership agreement with Air Madagascar, announced in October 2017, to improve air connectivity, tourism opportunities and share resources in the Indian Ocean Vanillla Islands. Selected above Ethiopian Airlines, Air Austral injected capital into the Malagasy company at 49% and accompanies it actively in its recovery. Both companies are now working together to create a new common strength in the Indian Ocean.

Marie Joseph was awarded diplomas from École Polytechnique (Paris) and the École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées. He holds a Master of Science in Transportation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Welcoming Address & Aviation Leadership Forum
Zuks Ramasia  AASA, Deputy Chairperson / South African Airways (SAA), Acting CEO

Zuks Ramasia serves as the Deputy Chairperson of AASA. She is also the Acting CEO of South African Airways (SAA). Her illustrious career in aviation spans more than 26 years in the industry. She is a member of the Executive Team at SAA, providing strategic leadership to the national carrier. She was appointed to serve as the AASA Deputy Chairperson at its 48th Annual General Assembly in October 2018.

Zuks serves as a director on the Board of Aviation Coordination Services Limited (ACS). ACS’ mandate is bestowed by the association’s member airlines on whose behalf it provides common operational support services to international and domestic airlines operating from, into and within South Africa. She served on the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Operations Committee (OPC) - the committee serves as an advisory body to IATA’s Board of Governors and Director General.

Zuks holds a BA (Honours) in English and Psychology (Human Resource Development) from the Rand Afrikaans University (RAU) now the University of Johannesburg; a Diploma in Airline Operations from IATA; is a graduate of the Leadership Development Programme from the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS); and a Postgraduate Diploma in Management from Henley Business School.

Industry Address

Chris Zweigenthal  AASA, CEO

Chris Zweigenthal serves as the CEO of AASA. He qualified as a Civil Engineer at the University of Witwatersrand in 1978, obtained his Graduate Diploma in Engineering in 1985, and worked for 10 years in the construction industry. In 1988, he joined South African Airways (SAA), where he held senior positions in the Petroleum Affairs, Flight Operations, and Marketing Planning departments, and was then appointed Managing Director of SA Alliance Air based in Kampala, Uganda. Upon his return to South Africa in 2000, he headed up Global Passenger Services until he left SAA in November 2001. In February 2002, Chris joined the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) as Deputy Chief Executive and was appointed Chief Executive on 1 March 2009.

Chris is active in supporting the growth and sustainability of airlines in the Southern African region, working with public and private stakeholders across the aviation industry. He is a regular participant and contributor to SADC, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and International Air Transport Association (IATA) initiatives in the region. He is a Director of Aviation Coordination Services Limited (ACS), a company responsible for several airport services managed on behalf of all airlines operating in South Africa; a Director of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA); and Alternate Director of the Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa (CAASA).

In April 2019, Chris was the recipient of the 2019 Ato Girma Wake Lifetime Award in recognition of his contribution to the air transport industry. The award was presented at the AviaDev Africa 2019 summit.

Programme Director

James Christie  Coach, Interpreter and Translator

Originally from the UK, James Christie left the media rat-race in London to discover Reunion in 2000. He set up his own business, today acting as a facilitator for companies and institutions in English-speaking contexts: conferences, coaching, and simultaneous interpreting. His specific areas of expertise include fisheries, sugar cane, regional cooperation and, of course, tourism - for him, the promotion of Reunion around the world is both a priority and a passion.

James studied French and German linguistics and literature at the University of Nottingham (UK) and Innsbruck (Austria), followed by a Cambridge TESOL qualification (Teaching English to Students of Other Languages). He has taught in France (Paris, Montpellier and Toulouse), Germany (Stuttgart and Hamburg), Switzerland, Chile (Valparaiso) and Reunion.

Keynote Address 
Reimagining Africa

Ronak Gopaldas  Signal Risk (Pty) Ltd, Director / Fellow at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS)

Ronak Gopaldas is a political economist, “pracademic”, writer and speaker. His work focuses on the intersection of politics, economics and business in Africa. He is a currently a Director at Signal Risk and a Fellow at the Centre for African Management and Markets at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS). He was previously the Head of Country Risk at Rand Merchant Bank. 

A prominent voice in print, radio and television in both the local and international media, Ronak has made frequent appearances on the likes of CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera and CNBC Africa, and publishes regular opinion and analysis pieces. He has spoken at several the world’s top universities and at leading Africa-focused policy and business conferences as a moderator, panelist and keynote speaker.  

Earlier this year, he was selected as part of a cohort of emerging African leaders for the prestigious Tutu Leadership Fellowship. Ronak is also an alumnus of the Asian Forum on Global Governance as well as the young African Leadership Initiative. In 2016, he delivered a powerful TEDx talk entitled Embracing Africa: Beyond the Binaries.

One-on-One Interview with Victoria Moores
Key Insights into the Industry: What’s stopping us?

Paul Steele  IATA, Senior VP, Member and External Relations

Paul Steele is Senior Vice President of Member and External Relations of IATA. He is responsible for guiding and implementing IATA’s strategic advocacy and stakeholder relationship activities worldwide.

Paul served as the Executive Director of the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), a cross-industry body that promotes sustainable aviation, from 2008 to 2014. He currently serves as a member of the ATAG Board of Directors. Prior to joining IATA in December 2007, he was the CEO of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) International. Before WWF, he had over 20 years’ senior management experience with major international companies. His roles included Chief Executive of The Virgin Trading Company; Senior Vice President Sales, Marketing and Information Technology of the Hilton Hotel Group, covering 150 hotels in 50 countries and overseeing a sales and marketing team of 1,000 people; and various senior roles at Pepsi Cola International, lastly serving as Group Vice President in charge of Northern Europe.

Paul holds a Bachelor degree in Business Administration with French; and a Diploma in Industrial Studies from Loughborough University; and is a former faculty member of the Prince of Wales’s Business and the Environment Programme run by Cambridge University.

One-on-One Interview with Paul Steele
Key Insights into the Industry: What’s stopping us?

Victoria Moores  African Aerospace magazine, Air Transport Editor / ATW, European Editor/Bureau Chief

Victoria Moores serves as the Air Transport Editor for African Aerospace magazine. She is an aviation journalist, specialising in African aviation. She has written for a number of publications, including African Aerospace, Airline Business, Air Transport Intelligence (ATI), Air Transport World (ATW), Aviation Week, AWIN and Flight International.

Before becoming a journalist, Victoria worked at the sharp end of aviation. She started out in airline ground operations in 1997, working for British Midland International (BMI) in both the UK and Belgium, before moving into business aviation in 2002 as Operations Analyst for Bombardier Flexjet Europe.

In 2003, she took up her first journalism role and joined Reed Business Information as an aviation journalist for its Flightglobal titles, and was promoted to Features Editor of Airline Business in the spring of 2009.

Victoria then returned to Belgium to become General Manager: Communications for the Association of European Airlines (AEA), an industry body which represents the interests of 34 major European network carriers, where she was responsible for directing the association’s media relations strategy.

In June 2012, Victoria joined ATW as their London-based European Editor/Bureau Chief, coordinating a team of four reporters and leading ATW’s Europe, Middle East and African coverage; and has been Air Transport Editor for African Aerospace magazine since its launch in January 2013.

Victoria holds an Air Transport MSc from Cranfield University, and a business degree from the University of Derby.

Panel Session
Unique Challenges and Opportunities of the Indian Ocean Island Aviation, Tourism and Business Environment  

Gaston Bigey  Nexa, CEO

Gaston Bigey serves as the CEO at Nexa. Born in La Réunion, Gaston has dedicated his life to the economic development and transformation of the island. Following a Master in Economics in 1992, he began his professional career as a teacher, with the will to stimulate the capacities and self-confidence of his students. 

Gaston then entered the medical sector, and the clinics group: Clinifutur. During 15 years, and 9 years as General Secretary, he contributed to the growth and diversification of the regional leader, which now operates worldwide in a variety of businesses. 

Convinced that La Réunion holds the required assets to become a major economic pole in the Indian Ocean, Gaston now mobilises his expertise to lead Nexa, the Regional Agency for Development and Innovation. Nexa supports regional authorities in the design and implementation of economic development policies, supports the internationalisation of the economy, and supports businesses and investors in their development.

Panel Session
Unique Challenges and Opportunities of the Indian Ocean Island Aviation, Tourism and Business Environment  

Rolland Besoa Razafimaharo  Air Madagascar, CEO

Rolland Besoa Razafimaharo first joined Air Madagascar in 1976 after graduating from ENAC, Toulouse as an engineer. He held such various positions as AirOps Officer, CFO, Technical Director, and ultimately CEO (1996-2000). He was appointed as Ambassador of Madagascar to Canada (2000-2002), and then joined the UN Peace Keeping Mission in Ivory Coast (2005-2016), becoming the Chief Aviation Officer of the Mission.

In 2017, Rolland Besoa was selected again to lead the airline and implement the Business Plan set up through a strategic partnership with Air Austral.

Rolland Besoa holds an MBA from Pace University, New York (NYC, 1984).

Panel Session
Unique Challenges and Opportunities of the Indian Ocean Island Aviation, Tourism and Business Environment

Jean-Marc Grazzini  Air Austral, Director: Commercial and Marketing

Jean-Marc Grazzini serves as the Director of Commercial and Marketing at Air Austral.

Jean-Marc began his career almost forty years ago, abroad. From Ireland, to Italy via the Gambia and the United States, this air professional, graduate of the ESC Rouen, has worked for United Airlines, successively holding the positions of Marketing Director in France; Managing Director of United Belgium; Managing Director of United Italy; Managing Director of United Airlines France; and Senior Account Manager in New York City, responsible for marketing United Airlines services to major account companies in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. 

Situation Report
Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) Implementation Status

Aaron Munetsi  African Airlines Association (AFRAA), Director Commercial

Aaron Munetsi joined AFRAA in May, 2019 bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience of aviation in Africa where he is the Regional General Manager: Africa & Middle East, for South African Airways (SAA). He has been with SAA for over 20 years and has spent this time in the Africa and Middle East region in various positions. His aviation career spans almost 40 years, and he is passionate about the development and growth of African aviation.

Aaron rose through the ranks at SAA in various roles in South Africa, UAE and later in Nigeria where he served as SAA Country Manager for four years. During that time, Aaron’s passion for developing the SAA brand was clear when he motivated for the establishment of the Dakar route. He also motivated and obtained buy-in for the first commercial agreement between African airlines, which enabled SAA and Nigeria Airways to cooperate on the Lagos to New York route, which proved to be a successful venture. He has taken senior positions, such as Executive Manager for East and West Africa, where he coordinated the expansion of SAA in countries such as Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. He took up the challenge of Regional Manager for North, West and Central Africa where he managed the services to Gabon and Cameroon. He led the negotiation with various governments for the introduction of intra-African operations: Libreville to Douala, Libreville to Cotonou, and the Accra to Abidjan route.

Aaron and his team have been the force behind the establishment of several new SAA routes in Africa and they are proud to have ensured the success of the SAA relationship with Africa World Airlines in Ghana. An avid reader, Aaron enjoys Coaching and Mentoring young Aviators and is keen to ensure that the African aviation sector continues to develop the youth into the leaders of the industry.

Situation Report
The Fourth Industrial Revolution, Big Data and New Technnologies: Impacts on Aviation 

Matthys Serfontein  SITA, President: Air Travel Solutions

Matthys (Thys) Serfontein was appointed President of Air Travel Solutions at SITA in May 2018, and is based in Atlanta, Georgia.

Matthys joined SITA in 2017 as Regional Vice President for Airport Solutions in Africa. Subsequently, he was Vice President, Portfolio and Solutions Management, with oversight for SITA solutions at airports globally, a position he held since 2012.

Matthys has enjoyed various senior management positions for the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) and the South African companies, e.Airports Ltd and OSI Airport Systems as Managing Director.

Matthys holds a Bachelor degree in Accounting, a Post Graduate Degree in Management Accounting as well as an Airport Management diploma from the International Aviation Management Training Institute in Canada.

Situation Report
Skills Development: Future Priorities 

Vivendra Lochan  AASA, COO

Vivendra (Vees) Lochan serves as the Chief Operating Officer at AASA. He has gained extensive knowledge and experience in the aviation industry over the past 35 years.

Vees spent a considerable amount of time at South African Airways (SAA) where he held positions in Sales and Marketing, Africa Route Management Division; and headed SAA offices in the Middle East and Gulf, as well as the Indian Sub-continent. In August 2010, Vees joined AASA as Chief Operating Officer. AASA is the SADC airline representative Association dealing with strategic, aeropolitical, regulatory, policy, financial and operational issues affecting its members. He represents AASA and its membership on regulatory committees and industry forums. 

Vees, is 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.  

Ms. Dipuo Peters, then South African Minister of Transport, appointed Vees in January 2015 to serve as a member of the Transport Sector Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Charter Council representing the Domestic Aviation sub-sector. 

Vees represents AASA on a number of government committees and is a member of the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) Regulations Committee (CARCom) that advises the Minister of Transport. He also serves as Treasurer and Director of the Wonders of Aviation NPC, a non-profit initiative established to promote aviation awareness and careers to the previously disadvantaged youth of South Africa. 

Vees holds a BCom in Business Economics and Economics from the University of Durban-Westville, and an MBA from the same University. 

Aviation Leadership Forum
Leadership Perspectives on how we Overcome the Constraints and Move Forward    

Blacky Komani  Tourvest Holdings, Deputy Group CEO

Blacky Komani, serves as the Deputy Group CEO of Tourvest Holdings. His career with Tourvest dates back to 2006, when he served as a Non-Executive Director of the Board, and later joined its financial services division: the American Express Foreign Exchange, where he worked as their Sales and Marketing Director. He assumed various roles within the Group and is a long-standing member of the Board and Executive Committees. 

Blacky holds a BAdmin (Hons) degree from the University of Fort Hare, and a Master of Tourism Administration (MTA) from George Washington University. He has gained over 30 years’ experience in the tourism industry, including a career with South African Tourism as a General Manager for the Americas from 1996.

American-based tour company, Karell’s African Dream Vacations, appointed him as their Sales and Marketing Director in 2002, during which he served South African Airways Holidays in the USA as their GSA. He was later appointed as Managing Director of Karell in 2004. After being part of a consortium that gained a stake in 1time holdings, he took over as Group Chief Executive Officer from 2011 to 2013. He is the current Chairman of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) Board.

Aviation Leadership Forum
Leadership Perspectives on how we Overcome the Constraints and Move Forward    

Wrenelle Stander  AASA Executive Committee Member / Comair Limited, Joint CEO  

Wrenelle Stander serves as an AASA Executive Committee member. She has over 25-years of work experience in the aviation and energy industries, of which over 15 years have been at executive leadership level. 

In November 2018, she joined Comair Limited as the Executive Director: Airline Business Unit, running the airline assets: British Airways, as part of a licence agreement, and, South Africa's first low-fare airline. Effective 31 July 2019, Wrenelle assumed the role of Joint CEO at Comair.

Before joining Comair, she held several positions within the Sasol Limited Group including: Senior Vice President: Corporate Affairs, and Managing Director: Sasol Gas.

Wrenelle has also held a range of executive leadership positions in the civil aviation industry, including:  

  • Managing Director: Air Traffic and Navigation Services Company;
  • Deputy Chief Executive Officer: South African Civil Aviation Authority; and
  • Chief Director: Aviation and Maritime Regulation.

Wrenelle has extensive Board experience and serves as an Executive Director on the Comair Limited Board (JSE: COM); as a non-Executive Director for the Sishen Iron Ore Company Pty Limited; as well as Christel House, a Cape Town-based NGO working with impoverished children.

Wrenelle holds an MBA from Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom, as well as a BA (Hons) degree from the University of Cape Town.

Aviation Leadership Forum
Leadership Perspectives on how we Overcome the Constraints and Move Forward    

Rui Carreira  TAAG Angola Airlines, CEO

Rui Carreira serves as the CEO of TAAG Angloa Airlines. Rui holds a Law degree, a Postgraduate degree in Business Management and a Master’s in Business Finance.

Rui started his career as a military pilot, continued as a commercial pilot and after obtaining his management qualifications, was involved in various executive positions and directorships at TAAG. 

Rui speaks 5 languages: Portuguese, French, English, Russian and Spanish.

Aviation Leadership Forum
Leadership Perspectives on how we Overcome the Constraints and Move Forward  

Elmar Conradie  Air Botswana, General Manager and CEO

Elmar Conradie serves as the CEO of Safair Operations. He has been with the company since 2005, when he started as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), before taking over the reins as CEO in 2015. ​

Before joining Safair, Elmar’s experience includes serving as Group CFO at Aergo Capital Limited; as the Aviation Division Group CFO at Imperial Group; and as an analyst at Macquarie.​

Elmar graduated with a B.Compt Honours (Cum Laude) from the University of the Free State (UFS). He is a Certified Information Systems Audtor (ISACA); and a chartered accountant registered with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA).