While a lot of businesses suffered because of lockdowns due to the pandemic, there are some companies like logistics firm Airspeed which found a niche and thrived.
Airspeed, part of SM Investments Corporation’s 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.
When Metro Manila was placed under community quarantine in March 2020 to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, all domestic land, air and sea travel to and from Metro Manila were suspended.
Airspeed Chairman and President Rosemarie P. Rafael recounted some tough decisions had to be made and swiftly during the initial year of lockdowns and they managed to charter flights for Cebu and Davao for shipments coming from abroad.
The firm was the only forwarder at that time that was able to secure chartered flights to serve essential industries such as pharmaceuticals and food.
“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,” Rafael said.
She added that, “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.”
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. Airspeed partner Axelum Resources Corp., a manufacturer of various coconut- based products that devotes a large portion of its production for exports lauded Airspeed for its support during the pandemic.
Axelum President Henry J. Raperoga said that, “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,” he added.
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 critical supply of vaccines nationwide today.
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.
Throughout the pandemic, most especially during initial lockdown period, Airspeed also 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,” Rafael said.