DHL Express upgrades fleet with more 777 freighters

Mustard yellow DHL plane flying overhead.

International courier company DHL Express has received the first of six new Boeing 777-200 freighters scheduled for delivery this year as it ramps up capabilities to serve the rapidly growing e-commerce market.

The new aircraft arrived last week at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), home to DHL’s U.S. operations, the company said Monday in a press release. The new freighter will be operated by partner airline Kalitta Air on behalf of DHL Aviation. 

The DHL Express unit uses an assortment of in-house airlines and charter operators to provide airlift for Amazon’s Prime Air, which guarantees one-day delivery for more than 100 million items ordered online. Last May, Amazon broke ground on a $1.5 billion air hub at CVG, located in Hebron, Kentucky. Amazon is currently using DHL’s facility to sort packages and service aircraft for Amazon’s 14 routes from the airport. DHL also flies night operations for big international customers.

DHL ordered 14 777Fs in 2018, with four delivered last year and another four coming in 2021 as part of fleet renewal to equip the fleet with more modern, fuel-efficient  aircraft. The Boeing 777F has the longest range – 5,717 miles – at full payload (102 tons) of any widebody freighter and reduces emissions by 18% compared with aircraft it is replacing.

“With the modernization of our intercontinental fleet, we can simultaneously enhance our proven ability to meet growing demand, improve our environmental footprint and deliver best quality service to our customers,” DHL Express CEO John Pearson said in the release. 

DHL Express, part of German logistics conglomerate Deutsche Post DHL Group, has made e-commerce service a strategic priority. It operates more than 260 dedicated aircraft with 17 partner airlines on more than 3,000 daily flights. 

“We expect further growth in cross-border e-commerce trade and, as a result, increased demand for our express logistics services and expertise in intercontinental deliveries,” Travis Cobb, executive vice president global network operations and aviation at DHL Express, said.

DHL’s capital expenditure for the 777Fs is $4.7 billion at list price, according to Boeing, but airlines typically receive discounts for multi-plane purchases. The order doubles DHL’s 777 fleet.