Enabling Global Trade Above the Clouds: Restructuring Processes and Information Technology in the Transatlantic Air Cargo Industry

Guido Schwarz – Clark University, Graduate School of Geography, MA, USA

Neither conventional economic geography nor transport geography has paid sufficient attention to the restructuring of the logistics industry. As anecdotal evidence mounts in the business literature about revolutionary changes taking place in the distributive sectors of the economy, more analysis from a geographic perspective is needed. Among transport modes, air cargo is unique because it is one of the backbones of global trade for many commodities. This paper analyzes the transformations affecting the transatlantic (U.S. – Europe) air cargo market, focusing on the changing roles of the industry’s different types of firms in performing the functions necessary for the transportation of goods by air and processing associated information. The importance of information handling, processing and transmittal has been amplified relative to transportation functions, redefining the interrelationship between the physical space of goods flows and the virtual space of information flows. As a result, functional integration and consolidation have become the dominant processes for future industry development, leading to market concentration and the emergence of growing cargo hub airports.

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