As Rexy Rolle becomes CEO of Western Air, here are four things to know about the family-owned airline

BY Preta Peace Namasaba January 10, 2024 12:10 PM EDT
Western Air is one of the largest privately owned airline in the Caribbean. Photo Credit: Western Air

Sherrexcia ‘Rexy’ Rolle has succeeded her father Captain Rex Rolle as the President And CEO Of Western Air. An aviation and corporate Attorney, Rexy is also the company’s General Counsel.

Rolle got involved with the airline at the tender age of 12 and has previously served as the Vice-President of operations.

She has a bachelor’s in Political Science & Communications from the University of Ottawa, a master’s in Mass Media & Communications from Lynn University, and a Juris Doctor from Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Her new position places her among the paltry 8% of women airline CEOs.

Here are four things you should know about the family-owned airline.

1. It was founded by a couple
Western air was founded in 2001 by the husband and wife team, Rex J. Rolle and Shandrice Woodside-Rolle. They have respectively served as President & CEO and Vice President & COO. The two leveraged their knowledge, experience and passion for aviation to build up Western Air as a reliable air transportation service. Captain Rolle holds a United States FAA and Bahamian certified Airline Transport Pilot license with a type rating in the Metro III. He is a former US FAA certified Flight Instructor, Certified Instruments Flight Instructor, and Certified Multi-Engine Instructor. His wife, Woodside-Rolle majored in International Business and is the family’s entrepreneur. She graduated valedictorian of her university class.

2. Western Air grew out of a need to help
While visiting the island, developed the idea to start an airline after noticing the limited air service during a trip back to her hometown. The couple returned to Andros and began building the airline to help residents of Andros Island, the largest Bahamian island and their family home travel to Nassau, the capital. The Andros-to-Nassau route was underserved by the national carrier and so the Rolles purchased one aircraft to meet the needs of the small community. They would fly from Andros to Nassau daily, throughout the day.
“People on the outer islands get familiar with aviation early on because of the necessity to go to Nassau for your basic needs – hospital, grocery shopping, all of those things,” Rolle said of the need for aviation transport in the Bahamas.

3. The airline has grown organically
It launched its operations with one 19-seat Fairchild Metro III turboprop that was piloted by Captain Rolle. Western Airlines later added more Fairchild Metro IIIs and Beechcraft 1900s to its fleet and was in prime position to compete against the national carrier BahamasAir. Occupancy demands propelled the airline to move from aircraft that were fast and perfect for short-distance routes and pursue larger aircraft. In 2018, Western Air signed a mutli-aircraft deal to acquire Embraer 145LR jets that are comfortable for passengers and convenient for international flights.

4. Western Air is the largest privately owned airline in The Bahamas
Currently, Western Air is the largest privately owned carrier in the Bahamas. It offers daily scheduled flights to nine destinations across the islands and operates on-demand charter flights throughout the greater Bahamas, Caribbean, Central and South America and the United States. The airline employs approximately 200 employees and has two major hubs. In 2015, Western unveiled its new $6 million passenger terminal and maintenance facility.