DHL Express Donates Former Air Hub

DHL Express said Jan. 19 it is donating its Airborne airport in Wilmington, OH to the Clinton County Port Authority in that state. DHL Express last year moved its U.S. hub operations from the Airborne facility to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) in Erlanger, KY.

Ian Clough, CEO of DHL Express, said in a letter that the 1,500-acre air park will be donated to the town of Wilmington for redevelopment and future use of the site as an airport/commerce park.

Gerard Hempstead, president of Hempstead Consulting and a former vice president for DHL, says DHL was paying to maintain the air park. “There is no revenue any more coming in from DHL,” he says. “There are no longer shippers housing inventory in the buildings that gave end-of-runway access to the latest departing flights.”

Air Transport Services Group will now be the tenant of the air park, Hempstead says. “Not sure what this means long term for the airport, other than I think it is really going to struggle.”

Hempstead says Airborne airport still sees some aviation maintenance, charters, and cargo flights for DHL, although the domestic contract is being negotiated.

DHL decided to get out of the domestic U.S. parcel delivery market in 2008 to focus only on international shipments. Before DHL consolidated its primary U.S. hub operations at the expanded and upgraded Wilmington Air Park in fall 2005, it used CVG as its main sorting hub.

“So the last piece of the retrenching was getting the burden of maintaining the airport off the books,” Hempstead says.

DHL Express acquired Airborne airport in 2003 when it bought the ground delivery business of Seattle-based rival Airborne Express for about $1 billion.

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