Located in Washington, D.C., the Cargo Airline Association is responsible for representing the industry before federal and state regulatory bodies, the United States Congress and, when necessary, in the federal and state courts.
The Cargo Airline Association can be traced back to 1948, when the Air Freight Forwarders Association was formed to protect the members of the newly formed air freight forwarding industry from over-regulation by the Civil Aeronautics Board and, to some extent, from the practices of the airline industry. One of the first members of this fledgling organization was Emery Air Freight, a direct ancestor of today’s Association Board Member, Menlo Worldwide Forwarding. Another current Association Board Member, ABX Air, also traces its history to the first days of the Air Freight Forwarders Association through Airborne Freight Corporation and Pacific Air Freight. This form of representation continued for almost 30 years – until the air cargo industry was deregulated in 1977 and air freight forwarders became free to operate their own aircraft.
From 1977 through the early 1980s, a dramatic shift in air cargo transportation took place. Forwarders entered the direct air carrier business and an entirely new industry was born – the overnight express business. Founded by Federal Express in the 1970s, this new paradigm of freight transportation exploded onto the world market in the 1980s. Faced with this changing dynamic, The Air Freight Forwarders Association amended its By-laws to permit membership by direct air carriers (The Flying Tiger Line was the first such airline member) and changed its name to the “Air Freight Association”.
Gradually, the direct air carrier segment of the industry became dominant in the Association’s activities, both Federal Express and UPS became members, and the name of the Association was again changed – this time to the current Cargo Airline Association. Today, the Association has a total of fifteen all-cargo airline members and has expanded Associate Membership to include airports that generate a significant amount of air freight and other industry members with a stake in the air cargo marketplace.