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Aviation promoters in the early 21st century were looking for a practical use for aircraft and so they came up with the idea to use them as carriers for freight. This was first tried in the November of 1910 when a departmental store shipped silk by air from Dayton to Columbus, Ohio.
The volume of freight soon grew significantly in the 1920s from 45,859 pounds in 1927 to 1million pounds in 1931 The U.S. post office shipped additional air freight and although there were attempts to organize air freight since the 1920s it was never it possible until after the world war 11. In November 14, 1926, national air transport was founded for the purpose of transporting parcels. It made its first successful air cargo delivery to the united states on September 1, 1927 from Dallas to New York. This led to the gradual emergence of other freight promoters, among them America railway express (renamed railway express agency REA in 1929) who managed to contract small airlines to deliver freight. Others include General air express that were the greatest competitors to REA and was founded in 1932. These two companies; REA and general air express soon merged in 1935 starting February the same year. This was brought about by the low return rates in the air traffic revenue considering that air freight contributed a mere 4% of all air traffic revenue (Camille, 2005).
On December 23, 1940, united airlines began what historians call the all-cargo service in U.S. history. They used Douglas DC-4 to deliver mails to and from New York and Chicago. In March 14, 1941, four big airline companies merged: United, American, TWA, and Eastern to form Air Cargo.Inc to deliver freight. They started operations in November 1941 to 1944 when many of the airlines, including United and TWA, started independent air freight services.
In the 1940s small airlines the established giants and the governments civil aeronautics board (CAB) agreed on contract hand-outs setting the proper rates for freight transport. The CAB in 1946 gave permission to four freight airlines to operate. These included Slick, Flying Tiger, U.S Airlines and Air news. U.S news and Air news did not survive for long and soon became bankrupt if not a series of air accidents in1952.With time Slick's activities(founded by Earl F.Slick in January 1946) were also suspended by the CAB in august 1965 due to lack of government support as they claimed.
The survivors being Flying Tiger (founded by Robert Prescott in June 25, 1945) faired on well and were making an average of $20million annually being the largest airline in the country.
In the 1980s a young entrepreneur, Fred Smith founded Federal Express which greatly relied on the idea of next day delivery. In 1983, the company reported revenue of $1billion after existing for only 10 years. In 1989, Federal Express acquired Tiger International.Inc the owners of flying tiger. By this Federal Express became the largest full-service all cargo airline. It would later on in 1994 be changed to FedEx (Roger, 2001).
The air freight and cargo industries have drastically changed over the years and involve large companies (FedEx), small-time operators (OCS air freight), and passengers airlines that operate cargo divisions.