The move of DHL's freight services from Brussels to Leipzig was triggered by the need to operate more night flights and the eastern German city's central location in Europe. It should also boost employment in the region.
Leipzig along with Wilmington, Delaware and Hong Kong will be one of DHL's global hubs
The express mail delivery and logistics company DHL, which is a division of Germany's postal giant Deutsche Post AG, inaugurated its principle European hub at Leipzig-Halle airport in eastern Germany on Monday, May 26.
In 2004, Deutsche Post had already announced the planned move from Brussels to Leipzig, since the Belgian capital refused to permit additional nighttime flights. DHL added that besides being able to operate around the clock in Leipzig, the central European location was ideal as a hub for emerging markets in Eastern Europe and Asia.
"Demand for express services is growing worldwide," said the new CEO of the Post AG parent company, Frank Appel at the opening ceremony attended by prominent politicians, such as German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
"This is a day to be proud of. We are looking towards the future," he said.
Georg Milbradt, the state premier of Saxony, where Leipzig is the capital, hailed the move as a "job motor" which will help boost the economy in the eastern states, which have higher unemployment rates than in the West. At present DHL already operates flights to the Middle East and India from Leipzig-Halle, where it plans to increase its personnel from about 2,000 to 3,500 employees by 2012.
"With DHL here, the state of Saxony will without a doubt become a central logistics point in Europe," said the state's economics minister Thomas Jurk.
Some 300 million euros ($474 million) have already been invested in the new hub, which has an air freight turnover of 1,500 tons a day. About 60 freight aircraft bearing the DHL logo take off and land in Leipzig per day.
Worldwide, DHL flies to nearly 50 destinations, of which Leipzig will become one of three main hubs that include Wilmington, Ohio in the US and Hong Kong.
Not everyone was happy about the new hub however. Dozens of local residents staged a protest at the inauguration over the potential increase in noise levels at night. "We will only fly when necessary," said Appel. A hearing on night time flights will be held in the federal courts in Leipzig on July 15.