Deutsche Post DHL and the Clinton County Port Authority (CCPA) have reached a preliminary agreement for the donation of DHL’s former principal U.S. express hub to the community of Wilmington, Ohio, for redevelopment and future use of the site as an airport/commerce park.
DHL and local officials hope to close the transaction before the end of the first quarter of 2010.
“With the donation, we will close a challenging chapter in our company’s history,” said Frank Appel, CEO of Deutsche Post DHL. “Ending operations in Wilmington was a difficult decision to make, but in the end, it helped us create a financially and operationally sound basis for our entire U.S. express business, and thus safeguard employment for thousands throughout the country. Moreover, through this move we were able to maintain stability of our global network and could continue to deliver time-critical international services to and from the U.S.”
In 2008, DHL restructured its U.S. express business to stem losses, leading the company to focus entirely on its international offerings and eliminating the need to maintain the $310 million air park in Wilmington, Ohio, as its principal U.S. air hub. Last August, DHL transitioned to its principal hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport (CVG), a facility the right size for DHL’s restructured U.S. operations, company officials said. About 1,600 staffers are employed at DHL’s hub at CVG, including hundreds that transferred from the Wilmington hub.
“We are very pleased to be able to support the region and people of Wilmington, and we are hopeful that the donation will serve as a platform for redevelopment and future commerce in Southwestern Ohio,” said Ian Clough, CEO of DHL Express, U.S. “As a partner and major employer in the region for nearly 30 years, we are committed to the communities in Ohio that have felt the impact of our decision to relocate.”
As the ultimate landlord of the Wilmington Airpark, the CCPA will work with the city of Wilmington, Clinton County, the State of Ohio and local municipalities to redevelop the former DHL hub as an airport/commerce park. Currently, the CCPA plans to lease a portion of the air park to Air Transport Service Group (ATSG), the parent of ABX Air, which operated as an air services provider for DHL Express.
“As a result of this philanthropic transaction the communities that comprise Southwest Ohio will be in a better position to manage their own economic growth,” said John Limbert, chairman of the CCPA. ” Although it will take time to recruit numerous aviation-related industries to this area, we see great potential for this facility to be a hub for new technologies while simultaneously supporting existing aviation business lines.”