Robert S. Arendal was born in Copenhagen, Denmark and was educated at Bröderna Phaalmans Handelsinstitut in Stockholm, Sweden. Arendal began his cargo career as a shipping trainee with Boise Griffins Shipping Company in New York. He went to Seaboard World Airlines, holding several management positions in the United States and Europe. He joined Cargolux Airlines in 1970 as director of sales and marketing, later becoming senior vice president of sales, marketing, and cargo services. In 1996, he was deputy CEO of the airline.

Today, he serves as an advisor to the chairman of Atlas Air, is the chairman of Kallax Cargo, and a founder or RA Associates, an air cargo management and consulting group.