Prayers of people in search of jobs have been answered with Amerijet Caribbean Express Ltd’s new branch office. The subsidiary of Amerijet International Airlines – a Florida-based company – opened this branch on Tuesday at 6A Victoria Avenue, Queen’s Park West, Port of Spain. This branch will be managed by John Hagan, Amerijet’s director of revenue accounting.
Hagan said, "Following a review of different locations, we identified Trinidad as the ideal location for a regionally located service centre. We wish to grow our long-standing relationship with the local government, our loyal customers and we see the potential of hiring skilled and committed people to build the solid foundation for the continued growth of Amerijet."
Amerijet has been operating at the Piarco International Airport for over 22 years.
At the launch, Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon said, “This near-shoring investment which is valued at $13.5 million will support internal services such as accounts payable and receivable, and also revenue accounting, project management and business intelligence to its customers.”
The company's new service will provide employment for 25 professionals in the finance and management sectors. From there, Gopee-Scoon said the opportunities will only grow.
“Amerijet’s decision to establish this shared-services centre in TT is further indicative of our trade in services which this government has earmarked for growth. TT has a highly-skilled and dedicated workforce and today’s (Tuesday) investment is testimony to that.”
She also took the time to recognise InvesTT and its president Sekou Alleyne who, she said, has been working hard at expanding the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.
“We’re late to the game in terms of some of the penetration that has occurred in the rest of the region, but... I know InvesTT is having many successes. Once we have our SEZ (special economic zone) up and running, then we can do even more at attracting persons in the BPO sector, especially at the higher levels as well.”
Gopee-Scoon said TT’s SEZ is near completion and the government is committed to opportunities like these for other investors.
Chief financial officer (CFO) Joe Mozzali said even though Amerijet has expanded its business to Europe, Asia and in the US, it noticed that its core business is the Caribbean and Central American markets.
Mozzoli has been CFO of Amerijet since January, but served as CFO for UPS Airlines where he worked for over 30 years. In his remarks, he also thanked Maritime Financial Services for partnering with Amerijet to make the service centre a reality.
He said, “Amerijet demonstrated our capabilities as an essential provider by transporting vaccines and PPE for the citizens of TT.”
CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) Nirad Tewarie said that though Amerijet is not a big sponsor, it is a friend of Amcham since they provide support where they can.
“When we asked for support for the electric bikes for the police in Tobago, Amerijet said, ‘Let me take few minutes and get back to you,’ and within the hour, the answer was yes. Now we have several e-bikes in Tobago to help with particularly tourism, but generally safety as well.”
He added that the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs of the US Embassy played a crucial role in acquiring those e-bikes for officers of the Tourism-Oriented Police Section (TOPS). These 12 bikes were incorporated into TOPS last July and were valued at $61,200, Amcham also donated a charging station valued at $9,000.
US Ambassador Candace Bond said, “Thanks to Amerijet’s stellar service, trained narcotics and firearms detecting canine –Thighs is the name of the dog, go figure,” she joked, “arrived safely in TT to support law enforcement capabilities.”
She said the provision of jobs and the sharing of services between private and public sectors are clear examples of what can be achieved. Bond said it provides for citizen security, economic diversification and climate action and hopes this can serve as a showcase what TT can offer to other US-based companies.
Gopee-Scoon also took the chance to mention the long-standing trade relationship between the US and TT. She added that they are TT’s largest trading partner.
“For instance, our exports to the US increased by 31.5 per cent of $30 billion from 2021 to 2022 and largely through an increase in energy prices, but also on the non-energy side, we grew by seven per cent to $5.6 billion from 2021 to 2022.”
She said as it relates to TT’s imports, it increased to $16 billion in 2022 which is $3 billion more than 2021.
“The trade balance is in our favour, largely on the account of the exports of ammonia and ferrous products from iron ore, liquid natural gas (LNG), methanol, crude petroleum and so on. But I know we’re working hard to ensure that it equalises and there are more investments coming in, imports from the US, as against other countries.”
Gopee-Scoon said the government will provide services including marketing, all-round sales, verification, and customer-care services to investing companies.
“Therefore, we will have from the US some $45.5 million in investments and these would have been operational only in 2022, employing about 500 persons something to be happy about.”
She said TT is working towards becoming a regional hub of choice for trading services because with the investments it can create jobs and commercial activity in TT. Gopee-Scoon also touched on several meetings she had prior with Bond and other members of management at Amerijet which, she said, expanded on the mutually beneficial opportunities that were discussed and pursued going forward.