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Get aviation system up to speed with e-commerce – AAJ boss

Published:Thursday | June 16, 2022 | 12:07 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer -


AUDLEY DEIDRICK, president and chief executive officer of the Airports Authority of Jamaica, says that the aviation system’s infrastructure must be up to date with the rapid growth in electronic commerce in order to maintain and deliver a high quality of service in the transportation of goods.

He made the comment on Tuesday while addressing a panel discussion on charting the future of electronic commerce, or e-commerce, during the eighth Annual International Conference and Exhibition (AICE) at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall, St James.

E-commerce refers to the buying and selling of goods and services over an electronic network, specifically the Internet. The practice has seen a significant global acceleration in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, with global e-commerce sales projected to reach US$6 trillion by 2024.

“There are some challenges that we need to take into consideration to facilitate the smooth flow and operation of e-commerce. We need to provide an enabling environment, where our technology and our physical infrastructure are keeping pace with the improvements that are taking place in e-commerce,” Deidrick told the forum.

“While e-commerce is a very powerful tool for cargo and trade, if e-commerce is moving at a speed of 90 miles an hour and the airports can only take the processing of these transactions and physical goods at 10 miles an hour, then you have a problem,” Deidrick added. “So it is important for the aviation system to align itself with the pace of the digitalisation of e-commerce, so we can harmonise and be fluent and efficient.”

Regarding the aviation sector’s general service delivery, Deidrick noted that the sector is the least preferred mode for the transportation of products when compared to the maritime sector. However, he stressed that the aviation sector puts more emphasis on the quality of product transportation.

“World cargo is 99.9 per cent marine cargo, and less than one per cent of world cargo is driven through aviation. Yet, aviation commands over 35 or maybe 40 per cent of the value of that cargo. It speaks to goods and services that are of greater value, requiring greater care and protection,” Deidrick explained.

“So if I were to make a choice, I would still want to stay with that percentage of value that we pull in the world cargo trade, and that is where I believe our focus is. What we do in support of that is the facilitation of the players in the e-commerce business, and I may extend it further to say that because of the nature of e-commerce, it is majority driven by aviation.”

Deidrick’s comments came after Velma Ricketts Walker, the commissioner of the Jamaica Customs Agency, told the panel that her organisation is moving to facilitate improved e-commerce transactions for customers.

“Over the period, what has happened is that there is an increased volume in the nature of e-commerce trade, and the volume of transactions sometimes poses a problem to customers, in the context that it requires more human resources to manage those transactions. We have moved as it relates to building out, expanding and leveraging our Customs automated system, so we are now moving towards an e-commerce module within the system to make it easier,” said Ricketts Walker.

Her remark comes four months after Mark Williams, the CEO of Kingston Wharves Limited, called for greater partnership on expanding e-commerce and pre-clearance solutions in order to support greater efficiencies in service delivery.