Business

AJAS Aviation set to launch IPO soon

Middle East expressing great interest in Jamaica as a hub

BY DURRANT PATE
Observer business writer

Friday, November 01, 2019

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Yet another local company, AJAS Aviation Services, is set to raise capital from the equities market.
AJAS, which is recognised as the largest ground services provider in Jamaica, and serves in excess of 10,000 flights with more than 1 million passengers per annum, is seeking capital to fund its expansion programme.


In making the announcement on Wednesday, AJAS Chairman, Howard Mitchell said the 78-year-old company is now in growth mode “and is looking at the local stock market to increase capital for growth”.
Addressing Mayberry's Monthly Investor Forum at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston, Mitchell said the company is looking to raise the needed capital “very soon”.


He was quick to mention that AJAS is a net earner of foreign exchange and is positioning itself to be very attractive to the Middle East and Far East noting that already the company is aggressively seeking joint venture partnership in those locations.


He pointed to the fact that AJAS, which is Jamaica's leading cargo services provider, handling in excess of 18 million kilos of cargo annually, has been investing in the latest security technology.


Given the projected boom in business and the investments being made in equipment, Mitchell stated that the company is now in a good position for expansion.


Mitchell argued that expansion is necessary given the growth in tourist arrivals this year, which is expected to close the year around 4.5 to 4.6 million visitors, as well as investments being made to infrastructure at the two international airports, now privatised.


“This opens us the possibilities for expansion in long-haul passenger ship and air cargo with high value cargo, small packaging, break-bulk cargo and cargo consolidation in a big way, thus allowing the establishment of logistic centres in relatively small physical spaces to handle electronics and robotics assembly coordination from the Far East, North and Central America,” Mitchell reasoned.


MIDDLE EAST INTEREST


He pointed out that the Middle East aviation population is expressing great interest in this region, using Jamaica as a hub to go further South and North.


“I can tell you that a company like Dubai National — which we have met and spoken to and which handles thousands of rooms and has over 150,000 employees, revenues in the hundreds of billions of dollars — if it comes our way the economic spin-off from that activity would be game-changing not just for Jamaica but for the entire Caribbean,” Mitchell said.


“It's a likely possibility; I can say they are coming out here; they have been looking at this region in a serious way”, he said.


GOING INTO LOGISTICS


Mitchell disclosed that AJAS is interested in going into logistics, which is a booming business worldwide, pointing out that with the investments going into highway and bypass road network and airport facilities, the prospects are great in this area.


According to the AJAS chairman, “This is the time for innovation, this is the time to be outward looking, this is the time to be optimistic, this is not the time to wait on the State, this is time for civil society to act in their best interest.”


Regarding its expansion outlook, Mitchell said AJAS is not limiting itself to the English-speaking Caribbean but is looking even further for business prospects and is willing to export its staff, numbering about 700 skilled personnel and equipment to other locations. He said this would see the company benefitting from economies of scale and getting into high value returns on its business activities.


In giving a plug for his company, Mitchell advised the audience that in November 2013 AJAS became the first locally owned ground handling company to be ISAGO certified, and in addition is the only ground handling company to be certified in Jamaica.


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