Black-owned airlines are uncommon enough, but a Black-owned airline run by a Black woman is an extreme rarity.
Stepping to the forefront of the travel industry is Sherrexcia “Rexy” Rolle, the daughter of the owners of Western Air Limited, the largest privately-owned airline in the Bahamas, according to its website.
Since the age of 12, Rolle worked with her father, Captain Rex Rolle, a professional pilot and flight instructor, and her mother, Shandrice Rolle, an entrepreneur, to build up the family’s airline since it was founded in 2000 to be what we recognize it as today.
From a baggage handler to now Vice President of Operations and General Counsel, Rolle has surpassed many individuals in her industry overseeing Western Air Limited and making international waves all before the age of 30, according to Black Business.
In regards to the initial idea for founding an airline company, Rolle shared with ESSENCE that her parents were inspired after noticing all the delays and flight interruptions happening from their hometown of Mastic Point, Bahamas to their then home in Fort Lauderdale.
“The idea was just to do one aircraft, and go back and forth from San Andros to Nassau, but once we started discussing it with the aircraft broker, and he introduced us to aviation financiers, they were able to explain that there was a need there,” said Rolle.
As a Black woman working in the aviation industry, Rolle has encountered her fair share of discrimination and obstacles based on her race, gender, and age stating “that’s something that I first experienced interning at an aviation and business law firm,” according to ESSENCE.
She went on to say: “The majority of the individuals in that department and firm did not look like me. And when we did go to the conferences, there was nobody that really looked like me. So I immediately understood that there was some sort of curiosity about me being there.”
Though she’s experienced adversity in this industry, Rolle is more than confident in her abilities as a business executive as she takes advantage of all opportunities presented to her.
“I’m okay with having to be three times as good as the next person because I’m not going to let anyone keep me from living my dream, she said to xoNecole.
Western Air Limited currently operates within major airports within the Bahamas and charters flights to Haiti as well, according to ESSENCE. The hope for the successful airline is to continue to expand and make flight travel more accessible to consumers.