Mr. Clarito Fruelda
President and CEO
Tell us about the history of AIRLANDSEA in the Philippines. Who are the owners and when did you start the company?
AIRLANDSEA Global Logistics Inc. was registered as an international and domestic freight forwarding Company on July 5, 2012. It’s an NVOCC registered entity and a member of PMTLAI (Philippine National Association of Freight Forwarders). AIRLANDSEA is a family corporation.
I am the president and I have been active in the business community, having previously served as Vice President for Membership of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as President of the Cebu Furniture Industry Foundation. I’m also active as the leader of other civic organizations. The Vice President of Finance, Ofelia Fruelda, is the previous branch manager of a multinational pharmaceutical firm that has a monthly sales turnover of over ₱1billion. ($19.1million US).
The senior officers of the company have a combined thirty-five years of relevant experience in distribution, warehousing, inventory control, delivery and other logistical functions. Its middle managers for Operations & Marketing and Sales are graduates of prestigious business schools in Manila, possessing several years’ relevant experience gained from previous employment in logistics companies. The company’s presence is well established in the country’s main ports and strategically located in Cebu (its headquarters), Manila and Davao.
Is customs clearance in the Philippines difficult to obtain?
Generally, customs clearance in the Philippines is like other countries in the world, i.e. governed by similar rules and procedure. Challenges do arise on the following of such guidelines and, admittedly, corruption is not absent in customs. However, the current president is aggressively punishing those found guilty of such behaviours.
Customs clearance is somewhat challenging in the Philippines, just like in any other nations in the world. The challenge varies by location, locally and internationally, can be a pain for both us and our clients. However, the Philippines’ government has taken great steps in mitigating this inconvenience. Our government has made the ease of doing business here one of its major thrusts in recent years and the results can be seen in our world ranking. The Philippines is moving up the ranking year after year. Also, the president has mandated completion times for government offices to finish transactions and set up channels for anyone to report corruption in government or delays/difficulties in transacting with any government office. The president does not hesitate to dismiss government officials over matters of corruption. Customs is one of the government agencies that the president is keeping a keen eye on.
We at AIRLANDSEA support this endeavour from our government. There have been instances in the past when our shipments were released later than they should have been, but we were able to successfully deliver on time, as per our commitment to our clients.
If cargo is destined for some locations outside the major ports, where does customs clearance take place? Can you tell us about the major ports in the Philippines that are used for foreign trade?
Customs clearance is always done in the port of discharge, like Manila, Cebu, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Subic, Batangas, Clark, etc. These ports are used for foreign trade, serving air and sea.
As you probably know, many shipowners are coming to the Philippines with their feeder ships. Does the Philippines have its own shipping line like it has its airline?
The Philippines has no shipping lines for international service, only for domestic. However, it has the two leading airlines, such as Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific, serving international trade by air.
The government has been pushing for tourism for decades now with their attractive campaigns that you may have seen in local and foreign media, such as Wow Philippines and It’s More Fun in the Philippines, which bring in millions of tourists from all over the world every year and have generated business opportunities in the country as well. The tourism campaigns have allowed more foreign airline companies to set up shop, an area that was once dominated by just a few airlines. Several airlines are now fighting for market share for tourism and business travellers alike, by coming up with ‘peso fare’ promos (equivalent to roughly US$ 52 for airfare) to local destinations and very low fare rates for international destinations.
The previous governmental administration also focused on roll-on/roll-off, that spurred inter-island transportation. Now, the current administration has made it a goal to focus on logistics as an industry for development. That means the transportation industries of air, land and sea for passage and freight are becoming bright spots for the country. Most of the major local shipping lines are from the Visayan Islands, where AirLandSea’s headquarters is located and we are proud to have strong ties with these shipping lines. Our having locations all over the country, with offices in Cebu, Manila, Davao, and Cagayan de Oro, makes us a strong logistics partner in the Philippines with countrywide coverage.
How is the business environment now in the Philippines? Do you have any future development plans?
Starting this year, AIRLANDSEA has intensified its effort in developing its international market, that only comprises about fifteen percent of our current total market, with the remainder being domestic. The government’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure projects are expected to bring in more business, both domestic and international. Airports are being modernized and expanded and RO-RO-type service further developed.
The Philippines was once dubbed the Sick Man of Asia. However, joint efforts from the government and the private sector are gradually transforming the Philippines from that to the Strong Man of Asia. The Philippines has been very competitive with its Asian neighbours for a decade now—economy-wise. Our economic growth is among the fastest in the region and from time to time is faster than China, the second-largest economy in the world. The three major credit rating agencies have raised the Philippines’ rating a notch higher in recent reviews and has described the economic outlook of the country as stable, seeing continuous growth. Both the World Bank and IMF have shared the same outlook and sentiment as the credit rating agencies. HSBC, one of the biggest banks in the world, even went as far as releasing a statement that the Philippines is poised to be the sixteenth largest economy by 2050. So, all these things speak positively to the business environment and the economic forecast of the Philippines.
We at AIRLANDSEA would like to be part of the success of the country and our clients by providing logistics solutions. We create strength through union, strong collaboration with our business partners and our strategic presence in the Philippines. The next steps we’re taking are to expand our presence and service across the world and we are also looking at warehouse and storage solutions for the next six to ten years. With great warehouse and storage facilities, we could start serving LCL services to our clients.
What makes AIRLANDSEA a reliable and trusted freight forwarder? Are you currently a member of any international networks?
As I’ve said, we are dedicated to expanding our presence and service the world over. Thus, we are a proud member of the Cross-Ocean network to help us in making this possible.
Our philosophy is that business relations must be founded on trust. The eventual shippers’ concerns become our concerns as soon they entrust us with their business. We own their problems and we come up with solutions. We are highly proactive, giving relevant information promptly to the shipper and consignee and ensuring they are aware of any potential incidents outside our control that might cause a delay. One who is forewarned is forearmed.
How is best to get in touch with you?
We are contactable through the following:
Executive Matters: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mobile: +63 917 626 1277 (24/7 service with instant replies)