16 October, 2019

American Airlines Celebrates 75 Years of Connecting the World Through Cargo Operations

American Airlines implements industry-leading technology as it celebrates a history of firsts
From oranges to orangutans, American Airlines Cargo has moved the world since its first scheduled air cargo flight took off from New York’s LaGuardia Airfield on Oct. 15, 1944. Today, the airline celebrates 75 years of cargo service, extending its global impact far beyond its signature passenger service.
Throughout its 75-year tenure, American has celebrated a series of cargo industry firsts. Aside from its distinction as the first carrier to offer a scheduled cargo service, American was the first carrier to use containers designed specifically to safely transport pets. It was also the first to use time-saving cargo containers — called unit load devices — which allow crews to get cargo into planes faster.

Cargo’s global impact

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that 35% of the world’s trade value is moved via air cargo. Whether international or domestic, the cargo carried on American’s planes is a significant contributor to global commerce.
Rick Elieson
“More than 50% of Americans fly each year, and we have a large share of that responsibility. But we also impact those who don’t fly American or don’t fly at all. By delivering the cargo consumers use on a daily basis, we continue to connect people and connect the world through our cargo operation.”

— Rick Elieson, President of American Airlines Cargo

Cargo by the numbers

American carries 2 billion pounds of cargo annually

Enough fresh cherries to bake 7.5 million cobblers (10 million pounds of cherries)

Enough grapes to make nearly 600,000 bottles of wine (460,000 pounds of grapes)

Enough lobsters to feed 1,000 seafood-lovers every day for a year (380,000 pounds of lobster)

Another key component of American’s cargo business includes pharmaceuticals, many of which are temperature-controlled lifesaving immunizations and medications. Immunization programs prevent an estimated 2 to 3 million child deaths per year, according to IATA. These programs rely on condition-sensitive, timely pharmaceutical shipments, which are made possible with temperature-controlled containers and cutting-edge technologies air cargo provides.

Future outlook

Cargo’s shipments fly below the wing of American’s 6,700 daily flights. With 6,200 loyal team members and vendor partners around the world, Cargo’s operations, procedures, training, sales teams, customer service representatives and loading technologies help deliver shipments safely and efficiently. This separate work group has earned the airline an award-winning reputation as an air cargo carrier.
American continues to focus its efforts on how it can modernize, innovate and connect the world in better way. This month, the airline implemented cutting-edge advancements to its cargo management system, marking the largest single investment in American’s cargo business to date. The first phase of the system launched Oct. 1 and gives customers a state-of-the-art online booking platform that makes the shipping process easier than ever before.
“We’ve achieved a lot over the past 75 years. I’m proud to be part of an organization that embraces innovation and I’m excited to see what we do next,” Elieson said.

American Airlines Cargo provides one of the largest cargo networks in the world with cargo terminals and interline connections across the globe. Every day, American transports cargo between major cities in the United States, Europe, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia. American Airlines Group is the holding company for American Airlines.

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