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Cargo.one raises $42m ahead of vaccine delivery challenge

Delivering one dose of a vaccine to 7.8bn people worldwide could fill 8,000 Boeing 747 aircraft 

By Freya Pratty

Credit: The founders of Cargo.one

Cargo.one, the Berlin-based digital booking platform for air cargo, has raised $42m in funding, as the industry sees a surge in demand for ecommerce air cargo and a pressing need for temperature controlled cargo to deliver coronavirus vaccines. 

Cargo.one’s latest round, at Series B, was led by Bessemer Venture Partners and included participation from Index Ventures, amongst others. The round comes just six months after cargo.one’s Series A, which closed $18m. 

The company, which processes around 110,000 air shipments from Europe each year, has added options into its platform that mean customers can ship temperature sensitive products. 

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The primary application of this will be the continuing distribution of the BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, which needs to be stored at specific temperatures. Cargo.one estimates that delivering one dose of a vaccine to 7.8bn people worldwide would fill 8,000 Boeing 747 aircraft. 

Alongside the vaccine, the company forecasts a 25% to 35% increase in the need for ecommerce air cargo across the Christmas period, compared to 14.7% last year. 

Cargo.one has already seen an uptick in usage across the year. 

“Between 2019 and 2020, we increased our user base by 300% with 2,000 freight-forwarding offices now using the platform in Europe,” says Moritz Claussen, the company’s managing director. “In that time bookings have grown by more than 700%.”

Growing demand, decreasing availability

The surge in demand comes at the same time as lockdowns and restrictions on international travel mean the capacity for global cargo has reduced dramatically  down 24% compared to 2019. 

Cargo.one believes this makes their service more vital than ever, allowing airlines to distribute the limited cargo space they do have more effectively in a way that manual booking doesn’t allow. 

The limits on international travel also mean airlines have looked more to cargo to increase their profits.

American airline Delta, for example, has been operating 124 cargo only flights per week and United reported a 50% increase in the company’s cargo business to $422m in the third quarter of 2020.

Cargo.one currently has 15 airline partners, including Lufthansa Cargo, Finnair Cargo, Etihad Cargo and All Nippon Airways Cargo.

The company’s now focused on expanding its reach in North America. 

“The company has had a fast and successful start in Europe,” says Michael Droesch, vice president at Bessemer, which led the funding round. “We are excited to support their expansion into North America, which represents a large and attractive market for cargo.one’s differentiated platform.”

 

Freya Pratty covers news at Sifted. She tweets from @FPratty

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