When we travel, we don’t always realize the network of people working to make our experience safe and pleasant. From the personnel who take care of our arrival at the airport to those who assist people with physical limitations to get on the planes or help clean the cabin of the planes between flights. For 38 years, the Puerto Rican company GMD Airline Services has distinguished itself in providing all of these passenger services.
Initially, the company focused on providing services as a “freight forwarder” or destination delivery manager with seven employees. Currently, they have more than 500 employees. “The safety of our employees and customers is a priority in our company, so we complied with the Employer’s self-certification for Covid-19 Exposure Control Plan and the one that was successfully processed by Puerto Rico OSHA,” explains Rodney Colón, who assumed the chairmanship of GMD in 2017. They have diversified their offerings to assist in the registration process of some airlines, accompanying passengers with special needs, or assisting in cleaning aircraft cabins. The latter task has recently acquired even greater relevance due to the global pandemic.
In addition to passenger services, GMD assists in handling the loading and unloading of aircrafts. The company also evolved to provide cargo and storage services. “We have a warehouse of approximately 100,000 square feet, where we handle general cargo, ranging from clothing, shoes, auto parts to perishable refrigerated cargo, such as flowers from South America (Colombia),” Colón explains.
Opportunity amidst a pandemic
It is precisely in the warehouse that Colón identified an area of opportunity after the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. “Apart from warehousing services for different industries, we serve the pharmaceutical sector, which has seen us as an ideal partner in the process of exporting and importing raw materials,” explains Colón.
Following the recent announcement that legislation was introduced in the United States Congress to turn Puerto Rico into a drug manufacturing center, GMD is positioned as a potential industry ally that would help facilitate export logistics thanks to its dominance in cargo handling. Colón highlights: “We are aware of what this could represent for the country’s economy, and therefore, we are investing in improvements to our infrastructure and knowledge. For example, we allocate resources to expanding cold rooms, which guarantee an exact temperature for the storage of pharmaceutical cargo.”
Highlights the commercial importance of the airport
The businessman emphasizes the SJU Airport’s importance for the Island’s economic development since “we import most of what we consume, and this is the most important air cargo port in Puerto Rico.” Colón concludes: “the San Juan Airport is the Island’s gateway to the world. Puerto Rico depends on the airport, not just for passenger services. You can close all the borders but not the airport because the Island depends greatly on what goes in and out commercially.”