Having now placed our global express activities under one unified management, we can focus more closely on growing international business. To this end, a key prerequisite was met in Europe when our German parcel business was transferred to the MAIL Division on January 1, 2007.
The international CEP market in Europe is expected to grow by an average of between 4% and 5% per year. At the same time, service standards continue to rise. As a result, we will continue to improve our offerings and consistently expand our guaranteed pre-12 deliveries in Europe supported by the new air hub at Leipzig/Halle airport. The first inner European flights are scheduled to commence during the course of 2007. By 2008, the hub will be fully integrated into our intercontinental express network.
We aim to afford our customers the easiest possible access to our services. This is why electronic customer interfaces such as the Internet will continue to be integrated and the number of contact points in Europe progressively expanded to around 20,000. In particular, the number of service points located at easily accessible sites such as supermarkets, train stations and retail chains is slated to increase still further. During the coming year, we plan to set up additional Packstations in more than 30 towns and cities in Germany, thus covering a total of 150.
In the USA, we aim to further improve our services and thereby hone our competitive edge. We want our customers to perceive us as the friendliest, most accessible and responsive express and logistics provider on the market. To achieve this, we will continue to respect our customers’ wishes, provide user-friendly technology and boost our domestic product range.
In addition, we aim to increase our earnings by using our competitive service quality to strengthen loyalty among existing customers while at the same time devoting more intensive efforts to generating new customer business.
In the other countries of North, Central and Latin America, we plan to expand our leading market position and further improve our service. This includes expanding time-definite deliveries to other areas in the region.
In Asia, we will expand our geographical reach in the region, develop high-quality products and services and continue to invest in technology, infrastructure and human resources. As part of our investment program, we will, among other measures, expand our Central Asian Hub in Hong Kong, develop a North Asia Hub which will be in place by 2008 and set up a central gateway in Incheon, Korea. We want DHL to become the employer of choice in the region.
In the foreseeable future, the Emerging Markets are likely to remain strong import markets. In addition, tremendous oil and gas resources provide a solid basis for international trade. We intend to maintain our market leadership in the region by investing aggressively in infrastructure, people and product development.