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COMPETITION WATCH: DHL inaugurates new hub in Central America

PANAMA CITY, Panama DHL inaugurated today what it claims to be the industry's largest hub in Central America.

PANAMA CITY, Panama DHL inaugurated today what it claims to be the industry’s largest hub in Central America.

With the new facility, DHL has increased its capacity to sort up to 5,000 packages per hour, representing a 250% jump from its previous shipping handling capacity.

“It is key for DHL to continuously invest in strengthening our global network. Simply put, transporting our customer’s goods to any corner of the world in record time is what we stand for. Today’s hub opening underscores our priority to exceed our customers’ expectations by improving our response time and shipment handling, while also representing the strong commitment we have to this fast-growing region,” said Roger Crook, CEO of DHL Express, International Americas, during the hub’s inaugural ceremony.

Strategically located at Tocumen International Airport in Panama, a country that connects the main poles in the Latin America, the new DHL hub boasts the infrastructure and capacity needed to efficiently respond to the accelerated rise in international trade, particularly between the U.S. and Central America, which stems from the recent free trade agreements.

According to U.S. Department of Commerce data, exports from the U.S. to the six CAFTA-DR countries (Central America and the Dominican Republic) increased by 16%, amounting to $19.6 billion dollars, while imports from these countries to the U.S. totaled $18.6 billion. Also remarkable, Intra-Central American trade recorded double-digit growth.

The $4.5 million hub was designed to optimize space allowing for greater operational and storage areas, which results in increased shipment capacity and improvements in aircraft departure times by 10 percent. The new 83,000 square-foot center three times larger than the previous facility considers various innovations and technology systems including a cold room for storing packages that require temperature control, material handling system and a re-packaging area. The operations center also includes high security measures, such as a private room to store high-value shipments, ramps that enable packages to be unloaded directly from the plane and security cameras monitored real-time through the Internet, among others.

“DHL has been working to strengthen its aviation network and offer better global connectivity to our customers. In addition to increasing our operational capacity, this new hub will enable us to improve our departure times by 10 percent. Hubs are built to reduce transit time and distance between regions and also to ensure that regions, in this case Central America, have access to international trade faster and more efficiently,” said Neil Ferguson, Senior Vice President, DHL Aviation Americas.

This investment is part of DHL’s growth strategy, which focuses on increasing operational efficiency, developing new products and services and, most importantly, excelling at customer service. The opening of this new hub in Panama follows several announcements on investments that support the company’s business growth within the region, including:

In Mexico, the expansion of DHL Mexico City’s main hub resulted in increasing the company’s operating capacity by 20 percent. The expansion is part of a five-year investment plan of over $112 million.

In Brazil, DHL recently opened four point-of-sales centers in the country’s major cities strategically located in high-traffic areas that facilitate access to small- and medium-size companies.

In Jamaica, a new gateway was built and recently inaugurated to speed customs clearance.

In Argentina, the company invested $1 million to open a customer service center with state-of-the art technology, which doubled the capacity.

The new hub in Panama strengthens DHL’s air network in the International Americas region, which serves 49 countries and territories in Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean.

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