Berlin-based cargo.one, a real-time booking engine for air cargo, raises €34.3 million as demand soars globally

cargo.one, the digital booking platform for air cargo, has raised around €34.3 million in Series B funding following a year of remarkable growth. The news comes just six months after an approx. €14.7 million Series A funding round and is fueled by growing demand for digital distribution as cost pressures and a capacity crunch hit the air cargo industry.

Founded three years ago by Oliver T. Neumann, Moritz Claussen and Mike Rötgers, cargo.one is building the global operating system for air cargo. Today, the company’s digital platform processes annualized volumes in Europe of more than 110,000 shipments and 45,000 tonnes with 15 airline partners including Lufthansa Cargo, Finnair Cargo, Etihad Cargo and All Nippon Airways Cargo. The intuitive digital platform makes booking cargo shipments as simple as booking a flight on Kayak or Skyscanner. It also enables airlines to distribute their cargo capacity efficiently and reach a broader audience while streamlining processes and saving substantial costs. 

Their series B funding round is led by Bessemer Venture Partners who are joined by existing investors Index Ventures, Creandum, Point Nine, and Next47. 

This round comes as demand for air cargo capacity continues to soar. According to the startup, e-commerce sales are projected to grow 25% – 35% this holiday season compared to last year’s 14.7% increase. The industry is also mobilizing a rapid response to global distribution requirements for COVID-19 vaccines, which are highly temperature-sensitive and necessitate logistics on a scale never witnessed before: providing a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to 7.8 billion people worldwide would fill 8,000 Boeing 747 cargo aircraft. 

Against this backdrop, national lockdowns and restrictions on international travel have already dramatically reduced the global air cargo capacity from pre-COVID-19 levels by more than 24% compared to 2019, resulting in the biggest global air cargo capacity crunch on record.

cargo.one is especially focused on growth opportunities in North America, where airlines have been responding to surging demand for air cargo (Cargo Tonne Kilometers (CTK) are up 8.6% YoY) and benefiting from a solid performance of Asia – North America trade lanes – a relative “bright spot” for carriers in an otherwise challenging year. The startup signals that Delta, American Airlines and United, for example, have all dramatically increased their cargo-only flights to offset declining passenger demand caused by global travel restrictions. 

In such a volatile market situation, and despite relying more heavily on air cargo to support their bottom line, airlines are struggling to distribute their capacity effectively, resulting in freight forwarders being unable to access vital cargo space. The current long and cumbersome manual process of booking and selling cargo further adds to inefficiencies.

“The results are outstanding,” said Michael Droesch, Vice President at Bessemer Venture Partners. “cargo.one provides a fundamentally better way for freight forwarders and airlines to book freight, leading to rapidly growing adoption and bookings across the industry. The company has had a fast and successful start in Europe, and we are excited to support their expansion into North America, which represents a large and attractive market for cargo.one’s differentiated platform.”

When they launched cargo.one, Moritz and his team couldn’t have anticipated how quickly it would become a critical infrastructure partner for airlines and shippers around the world – and a lifeline for airlines during the pandemic. They have methodically and relentlessly continued to build the new software platform for air cargo, and we’re excited to continue supporting them on that mission and their global expansion ambitions”, commented Martin Mignot, Partner at Index Ventures.