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South African businesswoman Siza Mzimela made history this past September after the launch of her domestic airline, Fly Blue Crane. She is the first Black woman to own and operate her own airline.

Sizakele Petunia Mzimela is an airline industry veteran and no stranger to the executive level. She was the CEO for South African Express Airways and South African Airlines, and was responsible for moving those airlines into international flights to the United States and abroad.

In a recent interview, Mzimela explained that it took her company 18 months to launch its first flight. As a low-cost alternative for South Africans, Fly Blue Crane flies within the African nation to Nelspruit, Bloemfontein, and Kimberly among other cities.

Mzimela’s fleet is small at the moment, with two 50-seat ERJ 145s planes. She wants to use Fly Blue Crane as a means to boost the economies of smaller cities in her country. Mzimela also hopes to expand the airline to fly to Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Along with Fly Blue Crane, Mzimela also owns Blue Crane Aviation, which is a consulting company aimed to assist South African airlines with management, operations and expansion. Mzimela is also sits on the boards of the South African tourism Board and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.

Fly Blue Crane’s main hub is the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg

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