Airspeed Makes it Happen for critical sectors in pandemic times

Finding quiet courage in a sea of chaos made all the difference for Airspeed, especially in pandemic times.

In March 2020, Metro Manila was placed under community quarantine to combat the COVID-19 pandemic with domestic land, air, and sea travel to and from Metro Manila suspended.

Airspeed Chairman and President Rosemarie P. Rafael recounted some tough decisions that had to be made swiftly during the initial year of lockdowns. At that time, Airspeed was able to charter flights for Cebu and Davao for shipments coming from abroad.

Airspeed, part of SM Investments’ portfolio investments, is one of the largest end-to-end logistics solutions and express courier companies in the country backed by a 35-year track record in the logistics industry.

“During the first year of the lockdown, everything was at a standstill. Nothing was happening. There were no essentials being delivered. One thing was certain. Before the lockdown, we had a chartered flight scheduled that week,” Ms. Rafael recounted one fateful day.

Airspeed’s chartered flight helped with the critical delivery of goods during the pandemic

Airspeed was the only forwarder at that time who was able to secure chartered flights to serve essential industries such as pharmaceuticals and food.

“I got stuck with the aircraft. The shipment didn’t come and we already prepaid for the flight. But I realized, we were the only aircraft flying that day when all commercial flights stopped. Before we knew it, we were able to fill the whole plane going to Cebu with agricultural products and other perishable items. That really changed the whole game,” Ms. Rafael said.

This paved the way for Airspeed to charter more aircrafts over a period of three months during the pandemic, in anticipation of the needs of the market and to spur economic activity. This was a demonstration of how Airspeed took big risks to serve customers and innovated when no one else could.

In fact, Airspeed partner Axelum Resources Corp., a manufacturer of various coconut-based products that devotes a large portion of its production to exports lauded Airspeed for its support during the pandemic.

Henry J. Raperoga, President and Chief Operating Officer of Axelum said: “During COVID-19, most of the businesses were paralyzed in action and stopped due to uncertainty. But not Airspeed, they were dedicated to delivering our raw materials, ensuring that we could run our production needs. Who would’ve imagined they could make it possible to have their own charter flight while the country was facing limited flights? They are not just a core business but truly a partner with heart.”

Doing its part to also help the embattled healthcare sector, Airspeed was able to provide chartered aircraft to SM Foundation to bring much-needed Personal and Protective Equipment (PPEs) to the country.

Moreover, Airspeed through its fleet of 243 vehicles continues to deliver the critical supply of vaccines nationwide today.

Airspeed facilitated the distribution of critical vaccine supply nationwide

Being able to identify the needs of communities and stepping in to address those needs proved critical and essential to Airspeed. It stepped up to fill in the gaps on food and grocery deliveries during the lockdown as people remained fearful of stepping out of their homes.

Airspeed Chairman and President Rosemarie P. Rafael

The pandemic has also largely disrupted the supply chain, creating a mismatch between constrained distribution resources and surging demand in markets that have started to re-open.  Movements of exporters from the Philippines by sea have been restricted by the availability of vessels and shipping containers. Many companies have had to send their orders via airfreight, limited by fewer passenger and cargo flights. As an integrated logistics service provider Airspeed was able to rapidly transfer cargoes into available aircraft space through customer support and its wide network of suppliers across the industry.   

Throughout the pandemic, most especially during the initial lockdown period, Airspeed delivered thousands of meals to different hospital front liners by pooling together donations from Airspeed employees and friends.

In all these, Airspeed’s values and the dedication of its people rose above the difficult times.

“What we realized is we cannot stop. We cannot be afraid. Our people went beyond what was needed of them.  That courage made all the difference, Ms. Rafael said.