DHL Express has opened a newly expanded Central Asia Hub (CAH) in Hong Kong, positioning itself for global trade recovery.


The international express service provider noted that CAH is strategically located in the heart of Asia, and it serves as a "unique gateway" to one of the fastest-growing regions in the world. 


"Asia is home to some of the fastest-growing markets in the world. Since it was established in 2004, we have seen a continued increase in air cargo demand driven by trade between Asia and other regions and cross-border e-commerce," said Ken Lee, CEO of Asia Pacific, DHL Express.


He noted that even as global trade continues to normalize after the pandemic, DHL Express has seen over 30% growth in throughput between Asia and other continents in the first three quarters of 2023 when compared with the same period in 2019 — far exceeding the pre-Covid level.


"Additionally, the strategic location of the Hub in Hong Kong opens doors to many opportunities for our customers in this region. We are confident that the expanded CAH will foster interconnectivity and underpin Asia’s status as a powerhouse of global growth," Lee added.


Integrating technology to boost productivity


In its announcement, DHL said CAH has direct access to the airside and landside of the airport and is currently the "only dedicated and purpose-built air express cargo facility" in the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA).


It added that with a 50% increase in total warehouse space to 49,500 sqm, and an automated material handling system, the hub’s peak handling capacity has increased by almost 70% to 125,000 shipments per hour.


The annual total tonnage management is also expected to increase by 50% to 1.06 million tons per annum when operating at full capacity.


DHL Express said this is six times the shipment volume of when the Hub was first established in 2004.


The hub is also the first facility in Hong Kong's express cargo industry to deploy computerized tomography (CT) X-ray scan technology as part of its commitment to operational efficiency and accuracy. DHL said these X-ray scanners double the inspection speed, enabling the hub to detect suspicious goods promptly and accurately.


The international express service provider said to date, the total investment for CAH has reached €562 million (US$610 million) since its establishment in 2004.


"This emphasizes DHL's firm belief in the growth opportunities in Asia Pacific and commitment to developing Hong Kong as an international aviation hub," DHL said.


Connecting trade between Asia and the world


Self Photos / Files - 69bb454064f744fba6e5ccb033cac2c7.jpeg

[Source: DHL Express]

John Pearson, CEO of DHL Express, said the company has invested more than EUR1.8 billion into its three global hubs, demonstrating its commitment to support its customers' growth as they expand globally.


"CAH is important to our customers in Asia and globally, as it handles close to 20% of DHL Express's global shipment volume. While global trade is normalizing following a pandemic boom, our investments today will improve our global and regional network, putting us in an excellent place when global trade recovers," Pearson said.


DHL noted that CAH is strategically located within a four-hour flight time to major cities in Asia Pacific and the Pan-Pearl River Delta region, making its location in the city significant.


DHL Express's Asia Pacific air network operates on a multi-hub strategy, supported by four hubs — CAH in Hong Kong, North Asia Hub in Shanghai, South Asia Hub in Singapore and Bangkok Hub, linking to approximately 900 DHL Express facilities in the region.


The newly expanded express cargo facility handles over 200 dedicated flights per week. It is also complemented by an established Asia air network, which supports about 690 daily flights.


Fred Lam, chief executive officer of Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK), noted the long-term vision to develop Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) as the "e-commerce fulfilment centre of Asia."


"AAHK has been working closely with DHL to expand its Central Asia Hub — first in 2008, followed by a second expansion in 2017. Today, we are celebrating the completion of the expansion — with enhanced capabilities in handling express and small parcel shipments — that will allow both DHL and HKIA to capitalise on the immense opportunities available in cross-boundary e-commerce," he said.


DHL Express noted that it initiated the expansion of this facility to complement the launch of the Hong Kong International Airport’s three-runway system, set to be completed by 2024.


As part of its sustainability commitments, DHL said CAH has installed 3,450 solar panels on the roof, with total Photovoltaic (PV) generation estimated at 1.68 GWh, an equivalent to reducing 850 tons of carbon emissions per annum.


CAH is also the first facility in DHL's Asia Pacific region to deploy battery storage and HKIA's first business partner to implement battery storage on-site.