GLOBAL FORWARDING, FREIGHT Division
The air, ocean and road freight forwarder
DHL Global Forwarding in figures
- Countries and territories: >150
- Locations: approx. 850 branches
DHL Freight in figures
- Countries: >50
- Locations: >160 branches
With its business units Global Forwarding and Freight, DHL is the Group's air, ocean and road freight forwarder. Our services extend from standardised container transport to highly specialised end-to-end solutions for industrial projects, and solutions tailored to specific sectors. A team of approximately 42,000 employees around the world strives to continuously improve our services in order to meet our customers' needs.
Our business model is very asset-light, as it is based on the brokerage of transport services between our customers and freight carriers. This allows us to consolidate shipments to achieve higher volumes, purchase cargo space at better conditions and optimise our network utilisation. Thanks to our global presence, we are able to offer a variety of routing options and meet our customers' increasing demand for multimodal shipments.
The leader in a softer air freight market
The air freight market showed signs of weakness in 2012. Although volumes in the first half of the reporting year did not decline as much as in the second half of the previous year. According to IATA, the global airline industry association, worldwide freight tonne kilometres flown in 2012 dropped by 2.6% by the end of June. Airlines have responded to the lower demand by expanding overall capacity only slightly, by 0.83% (as at June 2012). Whilst passenger capacities were increased, freight capacities were decreased.
In its air freight business, DHL transports a significant share of the world's technology and manufacturing products. Transport volumes vary by sector: the Technology sector saw a decline in the reporting year whilst the Engineering & Manufacturing and Automotive sectors experienced increases. Since we have an especially large share of air freight business in the Technology sector, our overall tonnage performance was slightly below the market average. Cost pressure drove some of our largest customers in particular to shift parts of their business from air to ocean freight, which is more economical for them. After transporting 2.44 million export freight tonnes in 2011, we remained the air freight market leader in 2012.
Ocean freight market on steady but moderate rise
The ocean freight market showed steady but moderate growth in the reporting year. However, the traditional peak season in the fourth quarter was nearly absent. Overall market growth was 1.9% (as at December 2012), DHL outperformed this with a growth rate of 4.2% (as at December 2012). The increase in ocean freight was mainly fuelled by intra-Asian and strong European exports, whilst volumes declined on the traditional Asia-Europe and Asia-North America trade lanes.
The decline in freight rates observed in the prior year came to an end in 2012. Ocean carriers made a series of general rate increases, which decreased the effective capacity in the market to the point that overall vessel use was high throughout the entire year. After transporting 2.72 million twenty-foot equivalent units in 2011, we remained the second largest provider of ocean freight services in 2012.
Road freight market growth slows
Driven by the challenging macroeconomic environment, growth in the European road freight market slowed over the course of 2012. The annual average was 0% to 2% (previous year: 3% to 5%). Whilst the market in Germany and other parts of Central Europe saw satisfactory growth developments, several Southern European countries recorded a decline. DHL's Freight business unit continued to be one of the leading providers in the European market, with a share of 2.4% in 2011. Our revenue growth matched that of the overall market.