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.
“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.