DHL Airfreight Volumes Surge 5.1% in Q1 Driven by Asia-Europe Trade Growth

Published: Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Growth in trade between Asia and Europe was the main driver for a rise in DHL’s airfreight volumes in the first quarter of this year, although airfreight revenue and profit suffered.

DHL reported a 5.1% year-on-year rise in airfreight volumes to 435,000 tons in the first quarter.

First quarter airfreight revenue in the Global Forwarding, Freight (GFF) division dropped by 16.2% to €1.3bn and gross profit also fell 25.1% as lower freight rates put pressure on performance.

Revenue in the Global Forwarding business unit decreased by 19.8% to €3.2bn. Gross profit in this unit was down by 17.6%.

Total revenue in the GFF division decreased by 15.8% to €4.5bn in the first quarter “due to lower freight rates”.

Speaking about the divisions results, DHL further stated: “The decline in revenue at Global Forwarding, Freight is primarily due to lower freight rates. The division once again recorded volume growth in air and ocean freight compared to the weak prior-year period. Airfreight volumes rose by 5.1%, with the improvement primarily attributable to trade routes between Asia and Europe.”

In total, the Group achieved revenue of €20.3bn in the first quarter, a fall of 3.2% year on year. Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) were €1.3bn, 19.8% down year on year. The Group noted “there was no significant upturn in the global economy in the first quarter of 2024”.

DHL chief executive Tobias Meyer said: “We are in an unusually long phase of low momentum in global trade. In this environment, we continue to focus on consistent capacity and cost management. However, we also see further growth potential.

“The demand for omnishoring and e-commerce solutions remains high and our customers are becoming increasingly aware of sustainable logistics – we can clearly see this in the demand for GoGreen Plus. With our portfolio, we are ideally positioned to benefit from an upturn in global trade. Despite all the challenges, 2024 is a year of opportunities.”

The first quarter results follow on from a 2023 airfreight revenue decline of 42.2% year on year to €6bn as volumes and rates declined.