You may not have known that there are black-owned airlines, but guess again. Sherrexcia ‘Rexy’ Rolle is the Vice President of Operations and General Counsel for Western Air, a Bahamas-based black-owned aviation business. Although the company was founded by her parents Rex and Shandrice Rolle, Rexy has led the charge in expanding her family’s privately-owned business which has been in existence for approximately two decades. With a net worth of $90+ million, Western Airlines has been steadily increasing its routes across the Caribbean, including direct flights to Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica and soon Florida. In this interview, Rexy describes how Western Air came to be and shares advice on how to make it in the aviation industry as a person of color.
Let’s get into the history of Western Air. What prompted your family to delve into the business of aviation?
Rexy: My parents were very young and just started out their lives when they had me. My mom was 17 and my Dad was 18, just beginning his career as a pilot. We are from a small town called Mastic Point, Andros in the Bahamas. My father started his career in the aviation industry as a private pilot by trade, however, owning his own airlines and developing it in the Bahamas was a lifelong dream of his. My parents worked tirelessly and persevered in developing this business by saving their money and doing their research with various aircraft brokers. My parents were eventually fortunate enough through faith, their persistence and dedication in their business plan to [receive offers] from two aviation investors from the U.S. From that moment moving forward, Western Air Limited was a dream that is now a reality.
Rex and Shandrice Rolle, Founders of Western Air
Rex and Shandrice Rolle, Founders of Western Air // photo via Rexy Rolle