DHL sorting centre at Brussels Airport nears maximum capacity
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DHL sorting centre at Brussels Airport nears maximum capacity

Credit: Belga

Parcel transport company DHL’s sorting centre at Brussels Airport is nearing maximum capacity due to the increase in online shopping brought on by the coronavirus crisis.

The centre opened in 2017, and when it did, “we had assumed an average growth of 8% per year,” said Freek De Witte, head of public affairs at DHL Aviation. “But it averaged 10%, and even 17% last year.”

Not only did many people discover online shopping when non-essential shops were closed, resulting in thousands of additional packages to be processed in the sorting centre, but the company transported a lot of protective materials and played a role in transporting the vaccines, all of which explains the growth.

The rate of growth will decline, DHL predicted, but online trade has most likely made its breakthrough and is not going to decline suddenly. For the sorting centre at Brussels Airport, this means that, according to current projections, capacity will already be insufficient by 2023.

A similar reasoning applies to an even greater number of DHL sorting centres in Europe, according to De Witte, which is why the company is planning to expand its European network. A decision is expected in September.

It could go in any direction: there could be new locations in Europe, just as existing ones could be expanded.

If there were to be an expansion at Brussels Airport, the head of public affairs emphasises that this would not necessarily involve many more flights.

“We hope to be able to create additional capacity by investing in new and larger aircraft, which at the same time generate less noise pollution,” he said.

The DHL sorting centre at the airport currently employs around 1,600 people in full-time equivalents. The company is looking for 50 to 100 new employees.

The coronavirus crisis has in any case not been detrimental to the Deutsche Post DHL Group, of which DHL is a part. Last year, it recorded a turnover of €66.8 billion, which is 5.5% more than in 2019. Net profit rose by almost 14% to €3 billion.

The group expects its operating profit, which was €4.8 billion last year, to exceed €6 billion by 2023. Its workforce has increased by 20,000 in 2020, to reach 570,000 people worldwide.

The Brussels Times