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cargo.one, the world’s first real-time booking engine for air cargo, raises $18.6 million to expand to North America and Asia

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cargo.one, the world’s first real-time booking engine for air cargo, raises $18.6 million to expand to North America and Asia. Image: cargo.one
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cargo.one, the digital booking platform for air cargo, has raised $18.6 million in venture funding. In response to rising demand, it plans to onboard new airlines, grow in additional markets and hire 70 employees, tripling the size of the company by the end of the year. The company already counts Lufthansa, All Nippon Airways, Finnair, Etihad, AirBridgeCargo and TAP Air Portugal among its 12 partner airlines, helping them boost their financial performance in the face of the challenges posed by Covid-19.

cargo.one’s ambition is to build the global operating system for air cargo. Its intuitive digital platform makes booking shipments as simple as booking a holiday or business trip on Skyscanner or Kayak. Because cargo.one links directly into the airlines’ systems, it is the first product to provide real-time visibility of available capacity and prices, as well as additional quality parameters like temperature control.

The Series A round was led by global venture capital firm Index Ventures, with the participation of Next47 and prior backers Creandum, Lufthansa Cargo and Point Nine Capital. They were joined by angel investors including Tom Stafford of DST Global and Carlos Gonzalez-Cadenas, currently Chief Operating Officer of GoCardless and former Chief Product Officer of Skyscanner. Martin Mignot and Max Rimpel of Index Ventures led the investment.

The market for air cargo is vital but broken 

With 35% of the world’s trade by value being transported by plane [1], air freight generates $100 billion in revenue every year. Pre-Covid projections forecast the market would grow at approximately 4.2 per cent per year [2]. The speed of air cargo makes it a crucial link in global supply chains – especially for the many industries that ship in components for ‘just in time’ manufacture, and for life-saving products such as pharmaceuticals.

As the margin on seats has eroded in the past decade, air cargo was already increasing as a percentage of passenger airlines’ revenue. As passenger numbers have tumbled sharply during the Covid-19 pandemic, airlines are relying even more heavily on cargo. Only around 20 percent of the widebody passenger capacity is still flying today [3], and some passenger airlines have even removed seats to convert aircraft into freighters. At the same time, traditional ways of selling and booking air cargo by email or phone have become almost an impossible task, as personnel are working from home – resulting in the rapid adoption of new digital tools.

‘Right now, booking air cargo is a long and cumbersome manual process, driven by a ‘feel’ of the market, and a short-termist, reactive approach to sales,’ said Moritz Claussen, co-founder and Managing Director of cargo.one. ‘With cargo.one, airlines are meeting customers’ increasing demand for an outstanding user experience, while substantially lowering their costs to reach new customers and revenue opportunities.’

Air freight is booked via companies known as freight forwarders, who organise shipments and supply chains for shippers. They fire off rounds of emails every day to airlines, in order to get offers for freight services – often without comprehensive visibility of the services available. They then wait to receive emailed replies, and sift through the individual quotes to obtain the best price and specifications for their shipments. This process leads to long wait times, high transaction costs and an inefficient use of the cargo space available.

cargo.one unifies a fragmented sector

As well as its partner airlines, cargo.one is serving more than 1,500 freight forwarding offices, including 21 of the top 25 companies globally [4]. From January to June 2020, cargo.one saw the number of air cargo search requests by freight forwarders quadruple. The number of quotes distributed in that time increased by two thirds, while in June alone, cargo.one made more than 1.1 million bookable air freight offers available to freight forwarders.

‘The new era of air cargo is being driven by universal access to real-time data,’  said Oliver T. Neumann, co-founder and Managing Director of cargo.one. ‘It’s essential that the industry has access to tools that allow players to both respond and anticipate market dynamics. From day one, cargo.one has provided freight forwarders with an outstanding user experience and access to real-time data. We now plan to accelerate the release of major product additions that will increase the connectivity between freight forwarders and airlines, and empower them to work more effectively together.‘

In the next phase of its growth, cargo.one will expand to North America and East Asia, to fulfill airlines’ desire to be able to sell globally though cargo.one and serve freight forwarders around the world. It will also build tools that use data to let airlines offer more dynamic pricing, engage in better route planning and predict demand in volatile markets.

‘The airline sector relies on operational excellence, but its back-end infrastructure is stuck in the dark ages,’ said Max Rimpel, Principal at Index Ventures. ‘cargo.one’s platform doesn’t just help to bring air cargo bookings into the 21st century, but lays the foundations for a complete overhaul of how the air cargo industry operates, leveraging data to help both airlines and freight forwarders to run their cargo operations more efficiently.’

cargo.one’s three co-founders Oliver T. Neumann (MD), Moritz Claussen (MD) and Mike Rötgers (CTO), have been long-standing friends and business partners since university. They co-founded several businesses, including OptioPay, a payments company. Through friends, they became interested in the fragmented logistics market, and discovered the potential for cargo.one after interning (for market research purposes) with a freight forwarder. When they saw the arduous process by which he booked a shipment of 470kg milk powder to be sent to China, they realised the potential for a business.

Miguel de Paiva Gomes, Global Chief Cargo Officer of TAP Portugal Airlines, a partner airline that recently joined cargo.one’s platform, commented: ‘cargo.one supports us to distribute our air freight capacity more effectively, gain access to fragmented demand and to improve the cargo booking experience for our valued freight forwarding partners. Many businesses rely on air cargo to keep their supply chains running, and our partnership with cargo.one is part of our dedication to help them to operate and expand their business in these challenging times.’‍

Martin Mignot, Partner at Index Ventures, said: ‘cargo.one has formed close partnerships with major global airlines, who have subsequently seen their cargo business expand significantly. Conversations with dozens of other airlines in the Americas and Asia show the clear need for a simple booking engine for air cargo, and early signs of the far-reaching impact it will have on the airline industry and businesses around the world who rely on it to serve their customers.’

Air Freight

TIACA and Pharma.Aero join forces to prepare air cargo industry for COVID-19 vaccine

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TIACA and Pharma.Aero join forces to prepare air cargo industry for COVID-19 vaccine. Image: Pixabay
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The International Air Cargo Association and Pharma.Aero have joined forces to develop global guidance for the air cargo industry to enable optimal transportation of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The guidance will be developed gradually in four work packages through a joint working group to ensure feedback from all stakeholders in the supply chain of air cargo and pharmaceuticals.

In the past few months, air freight has demonstrated once again its vital role in the global economy and distribution of essential medical supplies. In the months to come, air freight will again make an important contribution to the global public good and in fighting this pandemic by playing a vital role in the COVID-19 vaccine global supply chain.

As pharmaceutical companies race to develop the COVID-19 vaccine, it is still unclear what impact this vaccine will have on the global supply chain, specifically, logistics requirements and the air cargo industry. To address these concerns, the joint working group will bring to the table all the key industry stakeholders, including pharmaceutical manufacturers and logistics businesses.

The aim of this program is to provide the air cargo industry with more clarity of the demands, expectations and quality supply chain requirements, including but not restricted to critical trade lanes, air cargo capacity, handling and storage, track and trace requirements, for the transportation of the vaccines. At the same time, shippers will gain more understanding about the capabilities of the various logistics players. This will ensure that once the vaccine is available in the market, the air cargo industry will be ready to respond to the needs of the shippers and transport vaccines in optimal conditions to all corners of the globe.

“COVID-19 vaccine delivery will be one of the biggest logistical challenges in modern history. No one company can own the end-to-end vaccine supply chain,” said Neel Jones Shah, TIACA board member and Global Head of Airfreight at Flexport. “I’m proud to be a member of the TIACA and Pharma.Aero working group, which is doing the critical work of connecting all vaccine supply chain stakeholders to foster effective communication and collaboration. We need to start working together now to ensure the industry is prepared when the time comes.”

“Setting up reliable end-to-end air transportation for pharma shippers is part of the vision and mission of Pharma.Aero. Amongst our members i.e. life sciences and pharmaceutical shippers, certified airport communities and air cargo operators, we have a track record of project-based collaboration,” says Nathan De Valck, chairman of Pharma.Aero. “As a result, Pharma.Aero is well-positioned to make a valuable contribution in preparing the air cargo industry for this immense challenge.”

The working group will consist of members of both organisations and will also reach out to various international organizations. The results will be shared with the industry through white papers and webinars in later stages of the program which aims to complete by end of 2020.

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Air Freight

LATAM Cargo opens Miami – Florianopolis freight route and becomes the only airline to offer direct and permanent service from North America and Southern Brazil

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LATAM Cargo opens Miami – Florianopolis freight route and becomes the only airline to offer direct and permanent service from North America and Southern Brazil. Image: LATAM Cargo
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LATAM Cargo today made the inaugural flight of the direct route that will connect North America for the first time with the southern region of Brazil. Specifically, it is the Miami – Florianopolis route, which will initially have a weekly frequency and will be served on a B767F with capacity to carry 53 tons per flight.

The state of Santa Catarina is a market that focuses its economy on the import of products for industry and commerce, and from here it is supplied to the southern region of Brazil. In this context, the new LATAM Cargo route is a milestone in being the only one to implement a direct and fast route. From the United States, cargo from North America, Europe and Asia will be consolidated. In particular, Santa Catarina demands products from the automotive, metallurgical, food, pharmaceutical, electronics, and other industries.

“This new route will allow us to provide a direct, stable and permanent service between the United States and Santa Catarina, and is a concrete example of our effort to meet the needs of our customers. As strategic partners we are constantly evaluating routes that promote international trade, bringing buyers and producers closer together with the speed, attention and logistics excellence that are characteristic of our global network of services,” said Gabriel Oliva, Commercial Director of North America, Europe and Asia.

Before the Miami-Florianopolis route, the international cargo used to enter Brazil through Guarulhos and Viracopos. Therefore, it depended on complementary ground transport to reach the final destination.

“In addition to the benefits delivered to Santa Catarina, with this opening we also extend our coverage in the country by adding a tenth airport with exclusive operation in cargo planes. As we did with this route, we will continue to focus on offering more origins-destinations in the international and domestic markets to be present in the relevant markets of our customers”, says Kamal Hadad, Director of Alliances and Network of LATAM Cargo.

For the importance of this route to the southern region of Brazil, the inaugural flight was greeted with a ceremony at the local airport of Floripa and was attended by representatives of the state government, LATAM Cargo, and the airport.

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Air Freight

Skyports Partners with Robotic Skies to develop a UAS maintenance programme for drone delivery and beyond

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Skyports Partners with Robotic Skies to develop a UAS maintenance programme for drone delivery and beyond. Image: Skyports
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Drone delivery service provider Skyports announced its partnership with Robotic Skies, the global maintenance, repair, and overhaul network for commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

Skyports specialises in operating end-to-end drone deliveries within the medical, e-commerce, and logistics sectors. The company is conducting medical drone deliveries to assist the NHS in Scotland in the battle against COVID-19.  In addition, as a participant in the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) Regulatory Sandbox, Skyports is working to advance regulatory approvals that foster more beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations and the safe integration of these flights into non-segregated airspace – key to realising a permanent drone delivery service.

Duncan Walker, CEO of Skyports, said: “Certified maintenance is vital to enable full-scale, permanent commercial drone delivery operations. With Robotic Skies, our fleet of UAV systems will be maintained to the same safety standards as traditional certified aircraft. This partnership allows us to further demonstrate our commitment to the safe operation and integration of delivery drones alongside other users of the airspace and supports our plans to grow our service network internationally.”

Robotic Skies, through partnerships with companies like Skyports, provides enterprise UAS and drone delivery fleet operators with local field maintenance services. The company’s proprietary system combines expertise in unmanned aircraft systems and traditional aviation maintenance methodology to deliver high-quality, scalable services. The Robotic Skies Service Center network is comprised of over 200 independently owned and operated certified repair stations, spanning more than 40 countries.

Robotic Skies Founder and CEO, Brad Hayden, said: “We are excited to partner with Skyports as they pursue the expansion of drone delivery and other BVLOS flight operations in the UK and beyond. Our global Service Center Network puts high-quality support services where Skyports customers need it. Because we are leveraging the existing manned aviation infrastructure, we offer the highest quality, safety, and consistency in our programs to satisfy operators, regulators, and manufacturers.”

Maintenance standards provide an essential framework for the safety and ongoing airworthiness of certified UAS as they evolve to transport heavier payloads, fly longer distances, and carry people within and between urban environments.

Skyports will also work with Robotic Skies to develop maintenance programmes and facilities for the emerging Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) industry. Skyports designs, builds, and operates networks of vertiports to enable safe and efficient passenger air taxi and cargo drone operations in the world’s major cities.

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