DHL Express Expands in Brussels

The integrator will soon occupy a newly built 31,500 sqm facility comprising a sorting center at Brussels Airport. Rising volumes require this step. The transition to the new building will start at the end of June and the facility will begin full operations from July onwards.

Image of future DHL Brussels hub  -  credit: DP-DHL
Image of future DHL Brussels hub - credit: DP-DHL

When Deutsche Post DHL Group decided in 2004 to sharply reduce their operations at Brussels Airport Zaventem, in part due to impending limitations on night flights, and to move their main European hub activities to Leipzig, Germany instead, it was believed by many that Brussels would – at best – play third or even fourth fiddle in the European network of the integrator.
But the matter turned out differently from what many market experts had expected. Step by step, the package delivery company’s activities at BRU have grown again, driven by increasing volumes in the Benelux countries, Brussels’ strategically advantageous position in Western Europe and long-standing business relations with local customers. Volumes at the hub already exceed the levels they were at when the main hub operation moved to Leipzig.

Surpassing 2008 volumes
According to Dan McGrath, DHL Express spokesperson, it will be possible to process 39,500 shipments per hour at the company’s future sorting terminal at Zaventem International. This replaces the integrator’s existing sorting capacity at BRU of around 12,000 pieces each hour, mostly consisting of shipments weighing up to 31.5 kilograms.
DHL’s ongoing growth at BRU is much welcomed by Brussels Airport Cargo’s helmsman Steven Polmans, who speaks of an important milestone in the further development of cargo at Brussels Airport. “The continuous growth of DHL is not only of symbolic value to us but has also contributed to create a positive momentum for the entire cargo industry. The growth of recent years was seen in all cargo segments, but since 2010, we have seen good growth of the DHL volumes.” Steven adds to this: “Talking about cargo, we can really consider them as a home carrier in any way we look at it. So the new impressive facility will create further momentum to our ambitious plans.”

DHL to up intercont services at BRU
In total, the integrator has invested €114m in its new Belgian facility, mainly for equipping the building with state-of-the-art technologies, predominantly the automated sorting system. Asked about in what way DHL’s network will be influenced once the additional ground capacity is fully utilized, Dan McGrath says that the hub will continue to service a combination of regional European flights, as well as intercontinental flights connecting Europe to Africa, the U.S. and China, as well as for road services. DHL provides 64 road connections from Brussels directly to major business cities in Europe. These ground connections – as well as upgrades to larger, more efficient aircraft – should accommodate much of the anticipated volume growth. Brussels will also continue to act as an important contingency option when DHL needs to redirect volumes from other hubs in its network, for operational or capacity reasons.   

Investment paid off
The new 31,500 sqm sorting center and 5,000 sqm office space will certainly create additional jobs. DHL has already added 200 jobs in the last three years and will recruit about 125 people in 2017. It will triple the capacity of the integrator and strengthen the role of Brussels within the European and intercontinental network of DHL. The €114m investment will also play a crucial role in maintaining and developing Belgian trade connections and export opportunities: local companies will be able to increase their export volume and deliver packages abroad even more quickly and reliably.
DHL set up its first Brussels facility in 1985. Currently, the package company employs more than 4,000 staff in Belgium, including approximately 1,000 employees at its Brussels Zaventem Hub.

Heiner Siegmund

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