Customers in Vietnam and Malaysia can now expect faster service with direct flights from DHL Express’ Central Asia hub in Hong Kong. 

The express carrier said Monday it has replaced its Hong Kong-Ho Chi Minh City-Penang route with a direct flight from Hong Kong to Penang, Malaysia, on an Airbus A300 five times per week. A larger A330 will also serve Ho Chi Minh city directly from Hong Kong six times per week, adding cargo capacity and shortening transit times to both cities.

The A330 has 62 tons of capacity, much of which will be filled with fashion apparel, garment accessories and materials, and electronics. The A300 has 54 tons of capacity. Most loads will consist of electronic components and parts because Penang is a manufacturing center for those goods, according to DHL.

The parcel company, part of the Deutsche Post group (DXE: DPW), will also up-gauge the aircraft shuttling between Hanoi, Vietnam, and Hong Kong from a Boeing 737-400 to a B737-800, which offers more capacity.

DHL said the network adjustments are designed to deal with increased shipment volumes and enable one-day delivery due to e-commerce interest from merchants and consumers in the region. 

During the pandemic, a large number of new users turned to the internet for such services as online shopping. A November report by Google, Temasek and Bain & Co. showed 34% of electronics purchases and 47% of grocery purchases were conducted online. The e-commerce market in Southeast Asia is expected to be worth $172 billion by 2025, up from $38 billion in 2019 and $62 billion last year. 

E-commerce grew 87% and 46% in Malaysia and Vietnam, respectively, in 2020, according to the report.

“We have been paying close attention to shipment volume trends and constantly identifying gaps to further enhance our transit times. Given that international air capacity still remains limited in Asia-Pacific due to the shortage of [passenger] belly space capacity, we have been taking decisive steps to invest in additional flight routes and freighters to ensure we have sufficient capacity to maintain our service to our customers,” said Sean Wall, regional executive vice president for network operations and aviation, in a statement. 

DHL Express has 23 dedicated aircraft and four regional hubs operating in the Asia-Pacific region. It recently expanded its airfreight capacity by adding flight routes managed by AeroLogic and Kalitta Air.

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch. 

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