The more things change…
We may think today that we’re constantly breaking new ground with our obsession with speed, same-day Amazon delivery, high-tech logistics networks and a never-ending war against the bottlenecks in the supply chain. Take a few trips through the Air Transportation/Air Cargo World archive, however, and it becomes apparent that many of the same issue we’re trying to solve have been around for decades.
As early as July 1956, Air Transportation published a feature called “The Electronic Brain Reaches Out to Air Cargo,” about IBM’s efforts to digitize the air waybill process for Pan Am’s cargo shipments and keep records via magnetic tape, using a computer the size of a small house. “It costs Pan Am $1,000 a day,” the article said, “but the airline finds it’s worth it.”
The same goes for the easy scapegoats. One article from the early 1950s lamented the various ground-handling “bottlenecks” that were hampering the growth of the young airfreight business. Nearly 20 years later, another article from January 1970 predicted that “The 70s will be great” if we can just “lick that ground problem.” Forty-five years later, the jury’s still out on that issue. By the 1980s, computers had become small enough to fit in people’s homes, so the coverage switched from computerizing cargo operations to finding ways to ship PCs and laptops by air.
Today, Air Cargo World – the title that stuck since the final name change in 1983 – has embraced the idea of cloud-based logistics networks and artificial intelligence as we strive to make the supply chain more transparent. We also have our own conference on logistics innovation, called ELEVATE – now in its second year, to be held this month in Miami – as well as our annual Air Cargo Excellence Awards program, held every year since 2005.
“Air Cargo World magazine is a great source of what is happening now in the airfreight industry, both from a regional and global standpoint,” said Mike Gamel, CEO of Mexpress Transportation. “Not only is the magazine a great read, it is also very educational.”
As we start our next 75 years, we’ll surely make more questionable predictions about the future, but we’ll remain true to the creed of our first and longest-serving editor, to always view air cargo from the shipper’s perspective. “Almost from the beginning, I recognized air cargo as the more glamorous and romantic side of the [aviation] business,” Malkin wrote in 2002. “I spent the next six decades talking about getting out, yet never got around to doing it. Go figure.”Like This Post