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DHL adds airfreight capacity to Asia-Pacific network

Places 777 freighters with Kalitta Air, AeroLogic

Kalitta Air and AeroLogic are providing crews and maintenance to operate two 777 freighters for DHL Express. (Photo: DHL)

DHL Express has added two large freighters to its fleet to bolster service between the Asia-Pacific and the U.S. and Europe, in response to “exponential” growth in shipment volume.

The parcel carrier said Friday the two Boeing 777 aircraft will be operated by Michigan-based Kalitta Air and AeroLogic, the joint venture cargo airline of DHL (DXE: DPW) and Lufthansa Cargo (DXE: LHA).

The combined flights will offer almost 2,350 additional tons of capacity every week (nearly three-quarters from Kalitta) and improve transit times as the number of packages it handles increases. 

Kalitta Air is already flying five times a week from the U.S. to the DHL Express South Asia hub in Singapore, via Sydney. The route continues to Hong Kong and Japan before returning to Los Angeles and then Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport. In addition, Kalitta Air will operate a new shuttle route between Singapore and Sydney six times per week, DHL said. 

Kalitta Air has operated 777 and 747 freighters for DHL for several years between the Asia-Pacific and the U.S., and between Asia-Pacific and the European Union.

Last summer, the U.S. Department of Transportation granted Kalitta rights to operate three weekly routes between Hong Kong and Singapore under the bilateral aviation agreement with Hong Kong.

AeroLogic will operate the other 777 six times per week from Leipzig/Halle International Airport in Germany to Hong Kong and Singapore before making a stop in Bahrain on the return trip.

DHL’s Singapore hub is growing as a transloading center for shippers in Oceania trying to expand their reach in Asia, as well as Europe and the U.S. Exports have been growing in the region, with Australia and New Zealand accounting for more than 90% of all goods originating there.

E-commerce expansion is a key reason behind the strong growth of all-cargo airlines, including DHL. Online and mobile sales are expected to increase to $2.5 trillion in the Asia-Pacific region alone by 2024. The air cargo market has completely recovered all the volume it lost during the pandemic — and then some. In February, global air cargo demand increased 9%, but cargo capacity remains limited by sharp reductions in passenger flights because of the COVID travel restrictions.

READ: Air cargo gone wild: 9% growth in February

“E-commerce has taken the world by storm. The rapid growth of e-commerce will continue to demand higher efficiency and delivery speed from supply chains and airfreight transportation in the mid to long-term,” said Sean Wall, executive vice president, network operations & aviation, DHL Express Asia Pacific, in a statement.

DHL purchased the new 777s from Boeing as part of a 14-unit order in 2018. Boeing has delivered 10 of the aircraft, and the remaining four are scheduled to enter service in 2021. In January, DHL ordered eight more 777 freighters with first deliveries scheduled for 2022.

The twin-engine 777 has the lowest trip cost of any widebody jet because of its 102-ton payload capacity and range of 5,965 miles, which allows operators to make fewer stops and reduce airport landing fees on long-haul routes.

DHL operates more than 280 aircraft with 17 partner airlines on over 2,200 daily flights around the world. 

Click here for more FreightWaves stories by Eric Kulisch.

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Eric Kulisch

Eric is the Supply Chain and Air Cargo Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals and a Silver Medal from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government and trade coverage, and news analysis. He was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He won Environmental Journalist of the Year from the Seahorse Freight Association in 2014 and was the group's 2013 Supply Chain Journalist of the Year. In December 2022, Eric was voted runner up for Air Cargo Journalist by the Seahorse Freight Association. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. He has appeared on Marketplace, ABC News and National Public Radio to talk about logistics issues in the news. Eric is based in Vancouver, Washington. He can be reached for comments and tips at [email protected]