75th Anniversary: Air Cargo World changes with the times

Jetting forward

For much of the 1950s, Air Transportation sought to change the mindset of the air cargo business away from small parcels and mail delivery and to invest more in bulk freight and larger freighter aircraft. Many of the articles in that era were concerned with experiments with ever-larger propeller-driven aircraft that could move progressively heavier loads.

As the 1960s dawned, however, so did the jet age, with the advent of the four-engined Douglas DC-8 and Boeing 707 on the passenger side. While many carriers and forwarders sought to take advantage of the added speed and longer range of jet travel, Malkin remained unimpressed with the latest advances in aviation technology.

In a 1992 article in Air Cargo World, Malkin recalled how he thought the industry “didn’t have to solve any problems with speed. The problems were in the handling of the freight economically and safely.” While the bigger and better jets were important advancements, Malkin chose to view the airfreight business through the eyes of the shippers and the forwarders. Shippers and forwarders “couldn’t care less about what kind of airplane is flying,” he was fond of saying. “You could fly it on a goose’s wings, so long as it gets there in time, safely. That’s all they cared about.” It’s a philosophy that has carried through to today’s Air Cargo World, which focuses on logistics more than it does on aircraft.

One aircraft development that did have a profound effect on the logistics business happened in 1968, when Boeing announced the arrival of the 747, the world’s first widebody “jumbo jet.” Competitors, such as the three-engined McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar, came along soon after, ushering in the current era of belly freight, with each widebody passenger plane able to carry nearly as much cargo as a DC-8 freighter. It was about this time that Air Transportation changed its name briefly to Air Cargo in 1968, before settling on Cargo Airlift in 1969, reflecting the shift toward the need to provide value-added third-party logistics (3PL) services to compete in the forwarding world.

With the dawn of the 1970s, Cargo Airlift began to show more photos of smaller purple-and-orange planes, as Fred Smith’s Federal Express empire began to blossom in Memphis, heralding not just the era of overnight document and parcel delivery, but also the rise of the integrators as competition for the forwarding community.

In the late 1970s, the aviation industry finally got a U.S. Congress that was sympathetic to its pleas for deregulation, giving carriers much more freedom to set their own rates and compete directly against each other, and the magazine marked its 35th anniversary by changing its name, once again, to Air Cargo. By 1978, another end of an era came, as Richard Malkin stepped down as executive editor of Air Cargo at age 65, after 35 years with the magazine. He would go on to continue writing for another 25 years for various publications, such as the Journal of Commerce, CNS Focus and Distribution. He was named to the TIACA Hall of Fame in 2005 and passed away earlier this year at age 104.

  Like This Post

Continue Reading:

Pages: 1 2 3

Current Issue Magazine Cover
Sign Up Email List