meet the team
Neil Howard – Group Chief Executive Officer and Founder
Meet Absolute Aviation Group’s Chief Executive Officer and Founder,
Absolute Aviation’s Founder and CEO’s experience in the aviation industry dates back to the late 80’s and includes a broad spectrum of aviation qualifications and experience. His unwavering focus has always been on serving the needs and expectations of customers first, and this has been the basis of all growth and development in the Group since inception. His reputation in the industry is for providing a service offering that is educated, honest, and fair, and these values remain central elements of the Company ethos to this day.
After qualifying as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer in 1990, and gaining experience and Licenses on Learjet 20, 30 and 55 series aircraft, Neil went on to complete his USA Airframe and Powerplant License in 1991.
In the same year Neil joined ExecuJet’s maintenance division as their Manager responsible for all jet maintenance. In 1994, Neil accepted the position of Maintenance Director for ExecuJet South Africa, where he was solely responsible for ExecuJet Maintenance (Pty) Ltd, which was operated as a stand-alone entity.
In 2001, after ten years of service at ExecuJet, Neil started Howard Aviation, a Management Consulting Services business that primarily managed the maintenance of aircraft on behalf of owners. During this period, Neil completed his Fixed Wing Commercial Pilot’s License and later earned his Airline Transport Pilot’s License. Neil is rated on numerous corporate jets and multi-engine turboprop models, and went on in 2006 to qualify as a Helicopter pilot.
In 2003 Neil invested in a new venture which extended reach and facilities to Cape Town to complement operations in Johannesburg. In September 2007, Neil changed the name Howard Aviation to Absolute Aviation to reflect the more business it had become. The Company has enjoyed positive year-on-year growth ever since.
Guy Worthington - Managing Director: Africa and Partner
Meet Absolute Aviation Group’s Managing Director: Africa and Partner,
Born and educated in South Africa, Guy comes to aviation with an extensive local and international Marketing and Sales pedigree in FMCG. His working experience since 1990 includes various functional roles within two Global Fortune 500 businesses, Nestle and JTI. In late 2007 Guy was transferred to an international role based at JTI Head Office in Geneva, Switzerland to serve 120 markets in the capacity of Marketing Director across a portfolio of leading global brands. During the course of his time abroad, his global roles included:
• Marketing Director – South Africa (at time of leaving)
• Equity and Communications Director – Camel
• Channel Strategy Director
• Marketing Director – Belgium and Luxembourg
• OTP Director
Guy returned to South Africa on offer of the opportunity to purchase an equity stake in Absolute Aviation Group during the time of the Comair acquisition. He joined the Absolute Aviation Group Team in January of 2015.
Dewald Basson - Group Commercial Director: Africa
Meet Absolute Aviation Group’s Commercial Director,
As Group Commercial Director for Absolute Aviation in Africa, Dewald Basson oversees all aspects of business transactions ranging from accounting, legal and business strategy. In this demanding role he uses his hands-on skills and years of industry experience to tackle a wide variety of issues, challenges and opportunities. In essence making sure the wheels keep turning.
Before being appointed for his current job, Dewald was Commercial Director for Absolute Aviation Service Centre from January 2016. His passion for aviation is equalled by his appreciation for the people with whom he interacts in the industry – from aircraft owners to business leaders and his fellow dynamic leadership team. Dewald believes the phenomenal growth history of Absolute Aviation is linked to the great brand portfolio and to the people in the organisation. ‘The combination of both make Absolute a very challenging competitor’, he says.
▪ Financial Manager for Ancom Aviation Ltd where he first encountered the aviation industry.
▪ Commercial Manager in the Technical Service Division of General Mining, Metals and Minerals (Genmin).
▪ Financial Manager then General Manager for Billiton Aviation (Pty) Ltd.
▪ Served as a director for CAASA (Commercial Aviation Association of South Africa) and also heading up BAASA (Business Aviation Association of South Africa) while working for Billiton Aviation. As the CAASA representative at IBAC, Dewald was a member of the IBAC working committee that produced the first internationally recognized aviation safety guidelines for private corporate operators.
▪ He joined Absolute Service Centre in 2016 stepped into the role as the Commercial Director for the Absolute Aviation Group in 2017.
Elio De Oliveira - Technical Director for Service Centre: Africa
Meet Absolute Aviation’s Technical Director for Service Centre –Africa,
Elio De Oliveira
Elio De Oliveira provides technical quality assurance through technical support, capacity building and leadership to Absolute Aviation in his capacity as Technical Director for the Service Centre in Africa.
Elio has worked for the company for 28 years, bringing technical expertise and years of experience in the aviation industry to the group. He is known for his practical problem-solving approach and meticulous attention to detail when it comes to inspections, making sure all aircraft leave the Service Centre safely.
His journey to Absolute Aviation started in 1991 as part of his apprenticeship at Field Aviation, which led him to qualify three years later as an aircraft engineer. In 1997, he spread his wings and joined Comair.
Elio’s technical knowledge and qualifications are impressive, but he is particularly excited about the Cessna Citation product. Studying Flight Safety courses for Cessna Citation has been a top priority for Elio from 1991 until 2013.
Apart from courses in Flight Safety, Pratt & Witney and Rolls Royce, Elio has also obtained his South African civil aviation licences under the following categories:
▪ “A” Category
– Cessna 182 series
– Cessna 206 Series
- Cessna 208 Series
- Cessna 400 Series
- Cessna 402 Series
- Cessna F406 Series
- Cessna 425 Series
- Cessna 500/501 Series (citation)
- Cessna 510 (Mustang)
- Cessna 525, A, B Series (CJ)
- Cessna 550/551 Series
- Cessna 560 Series
- Cessna 560XL Series
- Cessna 680 (Sovereign)
- Cessna 750 (X)
▪ “C” Category
– Textron Lycoming IO540
– Textron Lycoming TIO540
– Pratt & Whitney PT6A Series
- Pratt & Whitney JT15D Series
- Pratt & Whitney PW530 / 535 Series
- Pratt & Whitney PW535A
- Pratt & Whitney PW545A Series
- P&W 615F-A
- Rolls Royce AE3007C Series
- Williams Rolls Fj44 Series
- Pratt & Whitney 306C
Jackie van der Westhuizen - Chief Financial Officer
Meet Absolute Aviation’s Chief Financial Officer,
Jackie van der Westhuizen
Jackie van der Westhuizen oversees Absolute Aviation Group’s finance function, ensuring accurate reporting and management of the Finance Team. She is a qualified Chartered Accountant (SA) with skills in group financial management, auditing, accounting and taxation. With more than 10 years’ experience in the financial industry, Jackie brings her problem-solving skills, ability to work under pressure and pursuit of excellence to her role as CFO.
Born and raised in Vereeniging, Jackie went on to study Accounting at the University of Johannesburg. She also obtained her Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and honours for Chartered Accounting from the University of South Africa.
During the completion of her studies she served her articles with Lucro Auditing Firm and was promoted – first as auditing/client relationship manager (2006) and later to audit partner (2012). It was her drive to expand her knowledge and gain experience in the corporate world that led her to joining Wholesale Housing Supplies in 2015 as the group financial manager.
Absolute Aviation welcomed Jackie to the family as Chief Financial Officer in March 2017. With her firm belief that finance is the backbone of any good organisation Jackie has provided valuable information to all the business partners, helping the company make informed business decisions.
Paolo Fra - Group Sales Commercial Director: Africa
Meet Absolute Aviation Group’s Sales Commercial Director: Africa,
As Group Commercial Director of Sales for Absolute Aviation in Africa, Paolo manages and oversees all group sales, including aircraft, parts, maintenance and flight services. In this challenging role, he is responsible for the management oversight on all group sales strategies and initiatives and for the broader customer engagement agenda of the Group.
Paolo’s career foundation is based on a long and successful history in the luxury hospitality industry. This cemented his appreciation of people and his somewhat fanatical need to deliver or exceed customer expectation. He also understands that the demands of our customer segment tend to be immediate and that standards are justifiably high. On this basis he intends to continue to develop our service and skill capabilities in Sales to be equal to customer expectations.
After a long history in the tourism industry, Paolo joined Imperial Collection in November 2012. In his role as Brand Manager for Bentley Motors in South Africa, Paolo collaborated in many co-branding initiatives with Absolute Aviation. This continued into his more recent role as the Dealer Principal and Regional Marketing Manager for Lamborghini South Africa and Paolo eventually made the decision to move across to aviation in 2017.
Rohan Prinsloo - Commercial Director for Flight Services: Africa
Meet Absolute Aviation’s Commercial Director for Flight Services – Africa,
Rohan joined Absolute Aviation in 2013 but his passion for the aviation industry started long before that. He completed various training Programmes at Cranfield and Avia Global Training centres – leading aviation training organisations registered and accredited with the South African Civil Aviation Authority. He has years of professional experience in various leadership roles in the aviation industry and has worked for companies such as Extra Dimensions Aviation, Wings Charters and Aeronautic Solutions.
He joined Absolute Aviation’s Flight Services Department where he was Senior Manager of Operations and Business Development. He became the Responsible Person: Flight Operations (RPFO) in early 2016.
In 2017 Rohan was promoted to Group Commercial Director of Flight Services – Africa, where his responsibilities include oversight of all managed aircraft, charter and flight operations and responsibility for the Fixed Base operations of the Group. His Team is responsible for the implementation of all Civil Aviation Regulations and Technical standards. Another key responsibility of Rohan is to ensure a safe and reliable Air Service and ongoing compliance with AOC requirements.
Rohan has many notable achievements in the aviation industry which he became involved with in 2006. With eleven years of operations management experience, Rohan’s aviation proficiency includes:
▪ Part 138 – Air Ambulance Operations (Medevac)
▪ Part 135 – Fixed Wing Charter and Aircraft Management
▪ Part 127 – Rotorwing Charter, Cargo and Specialised Operations
▪ Certified Air Service Safety Officer
▪ Certified Quality Assurance Auditor
Sharlene Earle - Commercial Director Parts: Africa
Meet Absolute Aviation Group’s Commercial Director Parts – Africa,
Sharlene Earle supports the aviation industry, community and Textron product (Cessna and Beechcraft) by making sure they have everything they need to get back in the air.
She does this in her role as Group Commercial Director Parts: Africa by providing the right parts at the right price, excellent customer service and proposing new innovations with her focus on local and international market research.
Sharlene recognises and respects that Absolute Aviation has the strongest product in General Aviation by being the authorised representative of both Cessna and Beechcraft and that it requires her team’s greatest effort and commitment. She leads her team with forward thinking ideas and her strengths lies in her meticulous attention to detail.
Sharlene contributes a vast amount of knowledge to Absolute Aviation Parts with years of experience in parts management, aircraft maintenance, all aspects of aircraft importation, financing and sales as well as managing South African and foreign Air Force supply contracts.
▪ From 1984 to 2000 Sharlene was Administration Director for various companies – Talisman Electronics, Alpha Page and Lima Sierra. In her role as Director at Lima Sierra, Sharlene was responsible for the Management of the contracts with the South African Air Force for the importation and supply of Aviation parts and services for all the Cessna Citations, 185’s, Beechcraft King Airs, CAASA’s and Piper Aztecs, including service contracts, propeller and engine overhauls and exchanges.
▪ Financial Director for the Placo Group of Companies (Piper Aircraft Distributors) from 2001 until 2013. In this position Sharlene managed Middle East contracts for aircraft engines and propellers. She also acquired knowledge and experience in the entire Management, Administration, Importation, Contracts and Sales of new and pre-owned aircraft, aircraft parts, aircraft maintenance, human resources and branches.
▪ Joined Comair Spares in 2014 in Parts Sales and Administration.
▪ Commercial Director of Parts in Africa for Absolute Aviation in 2016.