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December 17, 2020 10:45 AM, EST

Airfreight Booking Site Cargo.one Receives $42 Million in Funding

Company Plans Foray Into US, Asia
Cargo being loaded onto planeCargo being loaded onto an airplane. Air cargo costs have skyrocketed in the past year as the pandemic kept planes on the ground, limiting the space available in the holds of passenger jetliners. (pluem05/Getty Images)

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Cargo.one, which operates an online system for airfreight booking, raised $42 million from investors including Bessemer Venture Partners after the COVID-19 crisis helped to drive new business.

The Berlin-based startup lets shipping firms such as freight forwarders book air cargo in a way similar to how websites such as Skyscanner sell airplane tickets. It plans to use the money — its second funding round this year — to expand in the U.S. and Asia, it said Dec. 17.

Air cargo costs have skyrocketed in the past year as the pandemic kept planes on the ground, limiting the space available in the holds of passenger jetliners. A surge in online shopping and port congestion also has contributed to the squeeze, leading to a fourfold increase in Cargo.one’s user base and an eightfold rise in bookings, according to Managing Director Moritz Claussen.

Moritz Claussen

Claussen

“Most airlines have a manual system where freight forwarders call around the various booking offices for a quote and then go back to the lowest one to confirm the booking,” Claussen said. “When the pandemic hit, booking offices were suddenly working from home, and the phones went unanswered. And that’s when our business really took off.”

Cargo.one said it has processed about 45,000 tons of cargo in Europe through its 15 airline partners, which include the airfreight units of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Finnair Oyj, Etihad Airways and All Nippon Airways Co.

The latest funding round also included existing investors Index Ventures, Creandum AB, Point Nine Capital and Next47 GmbH, Cargo.one said. Altogether, Cargo.one now has raised about $64 million, including seed financing and a July funding round of $18.6 million that also included Lufthansa Cargo.

Price Surge

Air cargo revenue rose 29% in the third quarter for carriers tracked by the International Air Transport Association industry group, as surging prices more than offset the reduction in capacity.

RoadSigns

In this special two-part year in review, we look at the technology and regulatory developments that will help you and your business in 2021. Transport Topics Reporter Eleanor Lamb and Managing Editor for Features Seth Clevenger discuss HOS, software, equipment and more. Hear a snippet, above, and get the full program by going to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.

While around 2,000 dedicated freighters carry about half of all goods moved by air, the remainder typically goes in the bellies of the world’s 22,000 regular jetliners. Some airlines have converted passenger aircraft to cargo use.

Some of the new funding will be used to develop tools that use data to let airlines offer dynamic pricing, plan routes better and forecast demand, Cargo.one said.

The company also is expanding its product offering to allow pharmaceutical shipments to be booked through its platform, as COVID-19 vaccination efforts begin worldwide.

“We see ourselves as the Skyscanner for cargo,” Claussen said.

Giles Turner contributed to this report.

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