A global express network

In the Express division, we transport urgent documents and goods reliably and on time from door to door. Our global network spans more than 220 countries and territories in which some 111,000 employees provide services to around 2.7 million customers.

Time-definite international shipments: our core business

The division's main product is Time Definite International (TDI). Our TDI services enable delivery at predefined times, and our expertise in customs clearance keeps shipments moving as a prerequisite in ensuring fast and reliable, door-to-door service. We also provide industry-specific services to round out our TDI product. For example, our Medical Express transport solution, which is tailored specifically to customers in the Life Sciences & Healthcare sector, offers various types of thermal packaging for temperature-controlled, chilled and frozen contents.

Our virtual airline

Our global air freight network is operated by multiple airlines, some of which are wholly owned by the Group. The combination of our own and purchased capacities allows us to respond flexibly to fluctuating demand. The opposite graphic illustrates how our available freight capacity is organised and offered on the market. Most of the freight capacity is used for TDI, our main product. If any cargo space remains on our own flights, we sell it to customers in the air freight sector. The largest buyer of remaining capacity is the DHL Global Forwarding business unit.

Modernising our intercontinental fleet

In 2018, we contracted with Boeing to purchase 14 new 777F aircraft as part of upgrading our intercontinental fleet. By the end of 2020, ten of the new aircraft had been delivered and had entered service in our network. The remaining four aircraft are scheduled for delivery over the course of 2021. We have also ordered eight additional B777 freighters, the first of which have a planned delivery date of 2022.

Impact of the pandemic on our global network

Overall, the Express division has coped well with the COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining our service while giving top priority to the safety and well-being of our employees by shifting to mostly contactless delivery and by dispensing with signatures when delivering shipments processed on our B2C platform.

The pandemic seriously impacted passenger airlines. Many flights were cancelled and many aeroplanes grounded, curtailing our ability to purchase freight capacity on commercial flights. In order to minimise the impact on our operations, we adapted our air freight network to allow more of our own dedicated flights and to continue serving areas for which commercial flight capacity was not available. We also took the opportunity to introduce new direct dedicated services, for example between Brussels (BRU) and Miami (MIA), East Midlands (EMA) and Los Angeles (LAX), Hong Kong (HKG) and Sydney (SYD) via Guam (GUM), and Shenzhen (SZX) to European destinations. According to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, DHL was the busiest operator in Europe in most weeks of April 2020.

The pandemic and pandemic-related restrictions have further accelerated online sales growth. In all regions, especially in the B2B and B2C e-commerce sectors, increases in shipping volumes significantly exceeded expectations.

Keeping our customer promise

In order to keep our commitments to our customers as a global network operator, we monitor their ever-changing requirements, for example through our Insanely Customer Centric Culture programme and as part of the Net Promoter Approach. Our managers speak personally to customers in order to continuously translate criticism into improvements.

At our quality control centres, we track shipments across the globe and adjust our processes dynamically. All premium products are tracked until they are delivered.

We conduct regular reviews of operational safety, compliance with standards and quality of service at our facilities in co-operation with government authorities. Approximately 370 locations, around 100 of which are in Asia, have been certified by the Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA), making us a leader in this area.


  • Continuing to expand and modernise the European network

    In the Europe region, we are reinforcing our network by steadily expanding our infrastructure and modernising our fleet. We committed to two Airbus A321 conversions, both of which will enter service from the start of 2021. We also introduced a resource-saving "green" flight from Leipzig (LEJ) to New York (JFK), whereby various fuel-saving options were identified in order to reduce CO<sub>2</sub>e emissions. In London, we launched a new delivery service via Thames River boat to reduce inner city traffic.

  • Improving operating infrastructure in the Americas region

    We continue to make major investments in operating infrastructure, for example in our new hub in Toronto, and we are investing in facilities, retail and service centres in the United States, Mexico and Colombia. Three converted Boeing 737-800 aircraft were put into service, and we also launched a dedicated flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Sydney (SYD). The new flight connects to our South Asia hub in Singapore (SIN).

  • Additional investments in Asia

    We acquired three A330-300 aircraft for conversion into freighters, two of which were put into service in our Asian network (with the third entering service in 2021). A new flight connecting Melbourne (MEL), Auckland (AKL) and Christchurch (CHC) was introduced in November 2020 to cater to increased trade between Australia and New Zealand. We also launched a service centre in Sydney in September. In November, we opened the Osaka Distribution Centre - our largest distribution facility in Japan.

  • Reliable partner in the MEA region

    In the MEA (Middle East and Africa) region, the Middle East continued to suffer from the sometimes unstable political situation in 2020. We were nonetheless able to maintain our operations whilst ensuring the safety of our employees. In April 2019, we launched the DHL Africa eShop as an online marketplace which connects more than 200 US and UK retailers with buyers in Africa. More than 100,000 users from 35 countries are active on the portal.