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DHL Express
Deutsche Post AG
Type Division
Founded 1969
Headquarters Bonn, Germany
Key people Frank Appel (CEO, Chairman)
Adrian Dalsey (co-founder)
Larry Hillblom (co-founder)
Robert Lynn (co-founder)
Industry Express Logistics
Products DHL Express Worldwide
DHL Express 9:00
DHL Express 12:00
Owner(s) Deutsche Post
Employees 500,000 (2009)

DHL Express (originally standing for Dalsey, Hillblom and Lynn) is a division of Deutsche Post DHL providing international express mail services.[1] Originally founded in 1969 to deliver documents between San Francisco and Honolulu, the company expanded its service throughout the world by the late 1970s. The company was primarily interested in offshore and inter-continental deliveries, but the success of FedEx prompted their own inter-US expansion starting in 1983. DHL aggressively expanded to countries that could not be served by any other delivery service, including the Eastern Bloc, Vietnam and the People's Republic of China.

In 1998, Deutsche Post began to acquire shares in DHL, finally reached majority ownership in 2001, and completed the purchase in 2002. Deutsche Post then effectively absorbed DHL into its Express division while expanding the use of the DHL brand to other Deutsche Post divisions, business units and subsidiaries. Today, DHL Express shares its well-known DHL brand with other Deutsche Post business units such as DHL Global Forwarding & Freight and DHL Supply Chain.




Larry Hillblom was studying law at the University of California, Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, and had little money. He started running courier duty between San Francisco and Los Angeles, picking up packages for the last flight of the day, and returning on the first flight the next morning, up to five times a week.

When he graduated, Hillblom decided to go into the courier business himself. He found a niche that no other company was filling, offering to fly bills of lading from San Francisco to Honolulu. By flying the documents ahead of the freight they could be processed prior to vessel arrival and save valuable time after arrival.

Hillblom put up a portion of his student loans to start the company, bringing in his two friends Adrian Dalsey and Robert Lynn as partners. All three shared a 1969 Plymouth Duster that they drove around San Francisco to pick up the documents in suitcases, then rushed to the airport to book flights using another relatively new invention, the corporate credit card. As the business took off, they started hiring new couriers to join the company. Their first hires were Max and Blanche Kroll, whose apartment in Hawaii often became a makeshift flop house for their couriers.

The company started expanding their service through the early 1970s, first to the Philippines, then Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. For lower-volume routes the company would hire couriers on a one-off basis, trading airline tickets for the delivery. This simple expedient would repeatedly save the company many legal hassles in the future, when would-be investigators would take them up on the open offer and make a delivery while taking their family on vacation. The first was when the FBI was tipped off about the groups of briefcase-carrying young men making repeated trips to Hawaii, and when they investigated and found nothing amiss, several agents became regular couriers for the company.[citation needed]

Domestic expansion

In the 1970s DHL was one of the only truly international delivery companies, and the only one offering overnight service. The only major competitor in the overnight market was Federal Express (FedEx), which didn't open its first international service until 1981, expanding to Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Nevertheless, the domestic market was extremely profitable, and DHL was the third largest courier behind FedEx and the UPS.

DHL turned their attention to the overnight market in the US, following the success of FedEx, and opened a major distribution hub in Cincinnati in 1983. However, DHL was never able to overcome FedEx's head start, capturing only 6% of the domestic market. In comparison, at the same time they were by far the largest international carrier, with 40% of that market. By the late 1980s the domestic operations were losing money, while the foreign operations continued to account for 2/3rds of the company's income. A European hub opened in Brussels in 1985.[citation needed]

DP purchase

In 1998, Deutsche Post began to acquire shares in DHL, finally reached majority ownership in 2001, and completed the purchase in 2002. Deutsche Post then effectively absorbed DHL into its Express division while expanding the use of the DHL brand to other Deutsche Post divisions, business units and subsidiaries. Today, the DHL Express shares its well-known DHL brand with other Deutsche Post business units such as DHL Global Forwarding, DHL Freight, DHL Supply Chain and DHL Global Mail

DHL boat in Amsterdam, carrying DHL delivery bicycles on board.
DHL advertising on the Tren de la Costa light railway, Buenos Aires

All US domestic flights were handled by DHL Airways, Inc. which in 2003 was renamed ASTAR Air Cargo. DHL's first airline still remains with over 550 pilots in service, as of October 2008.[2]

  • 2001: Deutsche Post acquired a majority (51%) of DHL's shares, and the remaining 49% in 2002. The new DHL was launched by merging the old DHL, Danzas and Securicor Omega Euro Express.
  • 2001: The Packstation, an automated delivery booth, is introduced as a pilot project in Dortmund and Mainz.
  • 2002: Bashkirian Airlines Flight 2937, a Tupolev Tu-154 passenger jet, collided with DHL Flight 611, a Boeing 757-200 cargo jet, at 35,000 ft (11,000 m) over Überlingen, Germany, due to a miscommunication between the pilots of Flight 2937 and Swiss air traffic control. The 69 people aboard the Tupolev (consisting mainly of Russian schoolchildren) and the two pilots of the Boeing were killed.[3]
  • August 2003: Deutsche Post acquires Airborne Express, and begins to integrate it into DHL. The Airborne Express Airline named ABX Air is to provide contract ACMI service until 2011.
  • 22 November 2003: DHL shootdown incident in Baghdad: Iraqi insurgents fired an SA-7 "Grail" surface-to-air missile at a European Air Transport Airbus A300 operating on behalf of DHL. The aircraft had taken off from Baghdad airport. The missile struck the left wing, disabling all three hydraulic systems and setting the wing on fire. The aircraft began a dangerous phugoid (vertical oscillation) but the crew managed to land safely at the airport despite only being able to control the aircraft by adjusting the engine thrust. No other crew had ever been able to achieve a landing in this fashion, though the crew of United Airlines Flight 232 was able to also navigate their DC-10-10 after a similar triple hydraulic failure that resulted in a crash landing at Sioux Gateway Airport.[4]
  • September 2004: a planned expansion by DHL at Brussels International Airport created a political crisis in Belgium.
  • 21 October 2004: DHL Express announced that it would move its European hub from Brussels to Leipzig, Germany (Vatry, France was considered and rejected). DHL's unions call a strike in response, paralyzing work for a day.
  • 8 November 2004: DHL Express invests €120 million in Indian domestic courier Blue Dart and becomes the majority shareholder in the company.[5]
  • September 2005: Deutsche Post made an offer to buy contract logistics company Exel plc, which had just acquired Tibbett & Britten Group.
  • On December 14, 2005, Deutsche Post announced the completion of the acquisition of Exel plc. When integrating Exel into its Logistics division, it added its well-known DHL brand acquired with the purchase of DHL Express to form the name DHL Exel Supply Chain. Following the latest deal, DHL have a global workforce of 285,000 people (500,000 people including DPWN and other sister companies) and roughly $65 billion in annual sales.
  • September 2006: DHL wins ten year contract worth £1.6 billion, to run the NHS Supply Chain (part of the UK's National Health Service). DHL will be responsible for providing logistics services for over 500,000 products to support 600 hospitals and other health providers in England. As part of this new contract, in 2008 DHL will open a new 250,000 sq ft (23,000 m2) distribution centre to act as a stock holding hub for food and other products, with another distribution centre opening in 2012. The two new distribution centres will create around 1,000 new jobs.[6]
  • September 2007: DHL Express co-founds new cargo airline AeroLogic, based at Leipzig/Halle Airport, in a 50:50 joint venture with Lufthansa Cargo. The carrier will operate up to 11 Boeing 777Fs by 2012.[7]
  • December 2007: DHL becomes the first ever carrier to transport cargo via wind powered ships flying MS Beluga Skysails kites.
  • May 2008: DHL Aviation moved their central depot to Leipzig; Germany, resulting in a significant positioning for improved service and timeliness to the European Union.
  • 28 May 2008: DHL Express announced the restructuring plans for its United States network, including terminating its business relationship with ABX Air and entering into a contract with competitor UPS for air freight operations.[8] Its cargo hub would shift from Wilmington to Louisville.[9][10] The Air Line Pilots Association, International protests.[11] See also: Wilmington, Ohio
  • October 2008: Two DHL Express Middle East senior executives, David Giles and Jason Bresler, were assassinated in Kabul, by one of their own Afghan employees; they received military honors by the U.S. military, the first of such kind in Afghanistan.[12]
  • 10 November 2008: DHL announces that it is cutting 9,500 jobs as it discontinues domestic air and ground operations within the United States to deal with economic uncertainty. It is retaining international services, and is still in talks with UPS to transport DHL packages between U.S. airports.[13]
  • 30 January 2009 DHL ends domestic pick up and delivery service in the United States, effectively leaving UPS and FedEx as the two major express parcel delivery companies in the United States[14] Limited domestic service is still available from DHL, provided that the packages are tendered to USPS for local delivery. NewEgg is one such company that uses this option as of August 10, 2009.
  • April 2009: UPS announced that DHL and UPS have ended negotiations for an agreement for UPS to provide airlift for DHL packages between airports in North America. DHL said in a statement, "We have not been able to come to a conclusive agreement that is acceptable to both parties." DHL will continue to use its current air cargo providers, ASTAR Air Cargo and ABX Air for now.[15]


DHL Express's global headquarters are located at the site of Deutsche Post headquarters in Bonn.

Headquarters for the Americas are located in Plantation, Florida, while its Asia-Pacific and EEMEA headquarters are located respectively in Singapore & Dubai. The European HUB is now located in Leipzig.

Most of DHL Express' business is incorporated as DHL International GmbH.

Major competitors include FedEx, UPS, TNT, and national post carriers such as United States Postal Service and Royal Mail. However, DHL has a minor partnership with the USPS, which allows DHL to deliver small packages to the recipient through the USPS network. It is also the sole provider for transferring USPS mail in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

DHL offers worldwide services, including deliveries to countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Burma. As it is German-owned, DHL is not affected by U.S. embargoes or sanctions and will ship to Cuba[16] and North Korea.[17]

As a foreign company, DHL is not allowed to make domestic flights between U.S. airports, so these freight flights are contracted out.[13]

DHL may require some international recipients to pay any customs charges into DHL's foreign bank account and proof of payment provided, before package delivery can be completed. Such cases may involve a physical journey to the DHL bank and/or the local DHL office, although the recipient can opt to pay for the charges of the delivery at their premises.

Environmental record

DHL Balloon in Singapore run by DUCKtours tour organizer

In a mail delivery company, the methods of transportation may have an effect on the environment. The amount of pollution emitted from vehicle transportation alone is a major responsibility for DHL. The revelation of adverse affects has prompted DHL to discuss and implement alternative options that are more conducive for the environment. Their efforts have been outreaching in road to achieving environmentally friendly goals.[18] DHL plans to overcome its negative environmental impacts through its operations on the ground. This is to enhance overall efficient transportation and processes that have qualified them to reach environmental requirements set up by governments.[19]

More intensive measures have been taken to physically control the amount of polluting by use of the alternative fuel examples. They have changed vehicles in certain delivery fleets in accordance to their use of newer fuel ideas. The fuel was switched to compressed natural gas which they hope to accomplish with 50% of their vans. Through their Environmental Management System (EMS), DHL “travels naturally”. The EMS is established to develop DHL’s environment objectives and future.[20]

On 16 September 2005 DHL won a High Court injunction establishing an exclusion zone around each of its 288 buildings in the UK as well as the homes of its 18,000 UK employees. The firm has been the subject of a campaign of intimidation because of their business with Huntingdon Life Sciences. The judge banned protesters from coming within 50 yards (46 m) of any DHL premises or the homes of their employees as well as any organized demonstration within 100 yards (91 m) unless the police had been given four hours' notice. The injunction also protects anyone doing business with DHL from intimidation.[21]

DHL Aviation

Deutsche Post owns four airline subsidiaries operating for DHL Express[22], which are collectively referred to as DHL Aviation:


See also



  1. ^ DHL/DPAG. "DHL Divisions". Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  2. ^ DHL. "USA". Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  3. ^ Skyguide. "Information regarding the air accident". Retrieved 2007-01-18. 
  4. ^ Flight Safety. "DHL". Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  5. ^ DHL. "DHL Global Press Release". Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  6. ^ DHL. "DHL UK press release". Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  7. ^ Flight Global (2008-01-28). "AeroLogic outlines launch and expansion plans". Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  8. ^ DHL. "DHL to restructure U.S. express business". Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "ALPA Calls Upon Congress to Hold New Hearings on DHL-UPS Deal". 2008-10-23. Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b Aaron Smith. "DHL cuts 9,500 U.S. jobs". Retrieved 2008-11-10. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ CNBC. "UPS, DHL Scrap Airlift Agreement Talks". Retrieved 2009-09-13. 
  16. ^ DHL. "Cuba". Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  17. ^ DHL. "Korea". Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  18. ^ DHL. "DHL Germany's annual Environmental Award". Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  19. ^ DHL. "Our responsibility". Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ Victims Agains Animal Right Extremists. "DHL obtains court injunction". Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  22. ^ "DHL Airlines". DHL International GmbH. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 

External links

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