meet the team
Our success is attributable to our ability to consistently meet customer needs and expectations with passion and experience across a range of disciplines from within and outside of the aviation industry.
Our Team makeup and background:
Neil Howard – Chief Executive Officer and Founder
Meet Absolute Aviation’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 - Non-Executive Director and Partner
Meet Absolute Aviation – Non-Executive Director 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 during the time of the Comair acquisition. He joined the Absolute Aviation Team in January of 2015.
Dewald Basson - Chief Operating Officer
Meet Absolute Aviation’s Chief Operating Officer,
As 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 in 2017.
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’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
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.
Alida Reynecke - Head Of Legal, Risk and Compliance
Meet Absolute Aviation’s Head Of Legal, Risk and Compliance,
Alida Reynecke is responsible for legal, compliance and contractual matters for Absolute Aviation. She is an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa with a particular interest in corporate/commercial law, taxation, contracts and dispute resolution. Alida is additionally charged with the role of Company Secretary in her position on the Company Board of Directors.
Alida obtained her BCom Law and LLB degrees from the University of Pretoria. After her studies, she completed her articles and practiced as an Associate Attorney in Pretoria. Alida completed her Master’s degree in Contract Law in 2015.
In keeping with Alida’s drive for continuous self-advancement to compliment her service reach and capability, she completed a Certificate in Advanced Taxation during 2020.
Mike Clark - Managing Director – Aircraft Sales and Flight Services
Meet Absolute Aviation’s
Managing Director – Aircraft Sales and Flight Services,
Mike Clark was born in Johannesburg and after completing his National Service in the South African Air Force, he studied building management. Mike gained management experience in various industries and in 1999 he joined the Aviation industry at BalmOral, a Durban based aircraft operations company.
After BalmOral, Mike joined NAC’s international operations where he gained valuable aviation operational experience. While at NAC Mike completed a Master’s degree in aviation management at the Da Vinci Institute. Shortly after completing his degree, Mike accepted a position at ExecuJet Aviation.
Mike was promoted to Operations Director and spent seven years in that position. In 2015 Mike joined Swift Flite as the CEO. In September 2020 Mike accepted a position as Managing Director, Absolute Aircraft Sales and Absolute Flight Services.
Richard Grove - Group Business Development Manager
Meet Absolute Aviation’s Group Business Development Manager,
Divan Naudé - Director of Maintenance and Accountable Manager
Meet Absolute Aviation’s Director of Maintenance and Accountable Manager.
Having joined Absolute Aviation in 2018, Divan is Absolute’s Director of Maintenance and Accountable Manager. In this capacity, he oversees a team of 36 employees at the Service Centre. Divan’s impressive aviation background includes training at Textron and Flight Safety International, covering C680 and C700 series aircraft, PW306, PW500 series engines, and Honeywell AS907 series engines. Holding an FAA A&P/IA license and being a certified maintenance instructor on various aircraft types, he aspires to elevate the Absolute Service Centre to the pinnacle of aviation excellence.
Before joining Absolute, Divan garnered extensive experience in both turboprop and jet aircraft during his tenure with NAC, Solenta, and Execujet. His expertise extends to Textron Aviation’s product range, including Cessna and Beechcraft portfolios. This wealth of experience complements the proficiency of the Service Centre team.
Recognizing Divan’s expertise and exceptional customer references, Absolute Service Centre appointed him as Accountable Manager in late 2021. This appointment underscores the Absolute Aviation group’s commitment to operational excellence and provides customers with enhanced oversight and feedback assurance. Divan invites all owners and operators of Cessna, Beechcraft, Pipistrel, and Nextant aircraft to engage with Absolute Service Centre.
Elio De Oliveira - Technical Director – Service Centre
Meet Absolute Aviation’s Technical Director for Service Centre,
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 Absolute Aviation. 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.
Sizwe Buthelezi - Director - Sales and Marketing
Meet Absolute Aviation’s Sales & Marketing Director
Born and raised in Gauteng, South Africa, Sizwe fostered a deep love for aviation throughout his early years. Multilingual with a grasp of five languages, Sizwe has travelled extensively and lived in various countries across the globe. This worldliness is not restricted to travel; Sizwe also expanded his horizons by building experience in multiple fields before coming home to the aviation industry.
After completing an internship at an energy organisation in the United Kingdom, Sizwe emigrated to Australia where he drove forward with his commercial pilot licence in 2012. Sizwe grew from strength to strength, forging a successful career in aviation. He has developed specialised knowledge in many areas of aviation, having gained experience from positions at South African airlines and training organisations as well as from roles in aircraft company business development and marketing.
Sizwe’s multi-dimensional background in the aircraft arena and proven ability to build networks combine beautifully with his worldly outlook, multilingualism and natural charisma, making him an extraordinary member of Absolute Aviation. He joined the Sales Executive team in 2021 and looks forward to new and exciting challenges.
Justin van Tonder - Director - Aircraft Sales
Meet Absolute Aviation’s Aircraft Sales Director
Justin van Tonder
From the beginning, Justin had a connection with the sky and the outdoors. His interest and desire for adventure and aviation never waned as he completed schooling in Kwa-Zulu Natal and later, a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Entrepreneurial Studies in Pretoria. With a strong educational background behind him and three character-building years as a business owner, Justin then turned towards his passion.
He completed his fixed-wing commercial pilot licence in 2018 and followed this up by gaining valuable flight experience at Wilderness Air Namibia up until 2020. Justin continues to demonstrate his passion for learning as he is currently finishing his fixed-wing instructor rating and aims to achieve his helicopter licence soon. Justin joined the Absolute Aviation Sales Executive team in 2021. Although a recent addition, he is already showing huge merit.
Sharlene Earle - Managing Director – Aircraft Parts
Meet Absolute Aviation’s Managing Director – Aircraft Parts,
Sharlene Earle supports the aviation industry, community and Textron products (Cessna and Beechcraft) by making sure they have everything they need to get back in the air.
She does this in her role as Managing Director – Aircraft 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 lie 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
▪ Joined Comair Spares in 2014 in Parts Sales and Administration.
▪ Managing Director of Parts in Africa for Absolute Aviation in 2016.