Camilo Convers – Arajet
Each year, over 7 million tourists visit the Dominican Republic. However, most of the planes that leave the Caribbean island are taking these people home. Very few are transporting Dominicans on trips of their own.
“It’s shocking that so many people can’t leave their country,” Camilo Convers says. “Anyone can come, but natives can’t leave.”
Arajet, where Convers is the information chief and technology and projects officer, is helping to change this. As the first airline company based in the Dominican Republic, Arajet provides low-cost flights to make air travel more accessible for natives. It currently offers direct flights to 18 destinations in 11 countries across South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean, and will be adding routes to the U.S. and Canada in 2023.
According to Convers, round trip flights to and from the Dominican Republican cost an average of $700 with major airlines. Arajet’s first flight left the country on Sept. 15, 2022, taking passengers to Colombia with prices starting at $80 per ticket.
“To see flights where most people are flying for the first time, it’s rewarding to play a role in that,” Convers says. “There’s magic in knowing that you’re making it possible for people with fewer resources to fly.”
From the cloud to the clouds
Convers and his team enable Arajet to provide low-cost flights by integrating systems in the cloud and automating them for efficiency. This ensures all operations—ground control, passenger profiles, flight planning, and others—work in coordination so there are no gaps or redundancies.
“My role is project management enhanced by IT and finding the efficiencies that can be created from this approach,” he says. “The more we can optimize with technology, the more cost reduction can be passed on to passengers.”
For example, Convers and his team use an automated system to keep a maintenance schedule for all planes and track work that’s been done. The system allows Arajet to avoid major delays or repair costs.
The team also uses technology to help Arajet be more fuel efficient, for the environment and because of cost. For instance, Convers can track data on fuel usage and analyze risk associated with adjusting the flight time or path.
Convers also oversees commercial operations for Arajet through its website, which he and his team helped create. Because this is where all ticket sales and customer service take place, he says maintaining it is crucial.
“It is the cord of everything,” he says. “By having a low-cost airline, our only vendor is the website and sales depend on this. Having our commercial operation on the website puts technology at the top of the company’s needs.”
Creating an ecosystem
O ne of the biggest parts of Convers’ job is route planning, which he does in collaboration with others at Arajet using different systems that look at air traffic patterns.
“We want to go from five planes to 45 in the next five years and there is a lot to do,” he says.
In addition to holding an air operator certificate in the Dominican Republic, Arajet needs to obtain one in each country it wants to fly to. Having integrated systems streamlines the permitting process, Convers says, and makes it easier to apply for certificates.
Adding new routes also means hiring more pilots as well as more employees to work on the ground, in the air and behind the scenes.
“We want to create an ecosystem so that Dominicans become part of the company,” Convers says. “We want to bring progress to the island and in five years, we plan to be offering 4,000 direct and 40,000 indirect jobs across the Americas.”
He says it’s exciting to know that kids in the Dominican Republic can dream of, and now pursue, being a pilot, just as he did as a kid growing up in Colombia. Convers says he always loved being in the air and now has his pilot’s license thanks to his wife. She enrolled him in a course as a gift and while he has no plans of piloting a commercial plane, he enjoys flying small, private ones in his free time.
“My passion is being in the air, whether in a plane or by kitesurfing, which I also practice,” Convers says. “There’s a kind of freedom you can only feel when flying.”
Career take off
Convers’ early love of flying coincided with an interest in technological processes and understanding how things work. He has his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Politécnico Grancolombiano and his master’s degree in entrepreneurship and innovation from McMaster University in Ontario.
During his career, Convers has earned certificates in business, leadership and project management from Harvard Business School, Stanford University and the University of Texas at Arlington. He’s interested in pursuing his Ph.D. in either IT or business administration and would like to become an academic researcher and professor.
“I think, if possible, everyone should pass on their knowledge to the next generation,” he says.
He’s learned in his career—which has included roles at startups and large corporations—that working in technology requires more than understanding software and systems.
“I’m so glad to be part of this team because we’re all building this together to improve people’s lives here in the Dominican Republic,” Convers says. “Everything we do comes back to that mission.”
View this feature in the Winter I 2023 Edition here.
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