DHL will have cargo planes to operate in Brazil

The distribution arm of the German group will invest R$ 1 billion with Levu in four Airbus aircraft.

Pereira, from DHL, says that freighter will bring more flexibility to cargo transportation, now dependent on commercial planes.


DHL Supply Chain, the warehousing and distribution arm of the German DHL group, is taking its first steps with a dedicated cargo aircraft operation in Brazil in a partnership with the new Levu Air Cargo, a startup based in Campinas (SP). Today, air cargo carried by the company uses only commercial aircraft space.


In total, DHL will invest R$480 million and Levu another R$ 530 million for the lease of four aircraft, with a total capacity of 10,000 tons per month, as well as operation centers at the terminals.


The plan is for the first aircraft, an A321-200PCF P2F, to start operating this month. The move follows the entry of several “players” into the air cargo segment at a time of strong demand, especially from e-commerce.


Plínio Pereira, president of DHLSupply Chain Brazil, said that initially the flights will take the Viracopos (Campinas) - Manaus route, daily, and Viracopos - Recife, with three departures a week. “We intend to include a ticket in Belém (PA) in the coming months,” he said. As part of the investment, branches are planned at each of the four airports to receive operations. The initial contract is for seven years.

Plínio Pereira - President of DHL Supply Chain Brazil


As part of the partnership, DHL will have priority on occupancy and Levu will be able to sell the excess and space on the aircraft. The business risk - lack of cargo - remains with the German group, which will also use the route to other units in Brazil and to connect international loads to the domestic network.


Levu, on the other hand, plans to complete its certification process with the National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) later this month to start the operation, said Rodrigo Pacheco, CEO of the startup.


In total, there will be four Airbus aircraft, two A330-300P2F with a capacity of 59 tons and two A321-200PCF P2F with a capacity of 27 tons. “In the coming months we will receive another one of this model,” he said. The route for the second aircraft is still under study. Porto Alegre is on the radar.


The idea of the freighter, he added, is to bring more flexibility to the operation, since in the belly of commercial planes, the priority is the luggage of passengers, which makes the offer to the cargo sector irregular. “We have a known offer frequency, but depending on the occupancy on the commercial flight, there may be more or less space left for cargo,” he said.


With the first two aircraft, the company should have an additional capacity of around 4 thousand tons/month in the first year of operation. By the end of 2025, when all are due to arrive, the additional capacity will be 10,000 tons/month - between 3% and 4% of the current capacity offer in the Brazilian market. The main targets are the pharmaceutical, electronic, automotive and perishable industries.


The strength of e-commerce and its immediate nature encouraged the entry of several competitors into the market. Among the names, in recent years, are Total Express (which has Amazon as a shareholder), Braspress and Prosegur.


In addition to logistics companies, Gol itself, which used to have a timid operation, is now the airline with the highest number of cargo planes in the domestic market (six, with the possibility of doubling by 2025), supported by a partnership with MercadoLivre, in a business model similar to the one designed between DHL and Levu.


Aircraft will operate between Campinas, Manaus and Recife and, in the coming months, also Belém”

According to data from the National Civil Aviation Agency (Anac), domestic cargo transportation in March totaled 42.2 thousand tons, an increase of 9% compared to the same month of 2023.


In the past, other groups ventured into air cargo transportation, mainly through Postal Service tenders. Today, Sideral is the company that transports couriers by air. Before, it was Sky. The Itapemirim highway itself, which was declared bankrupt, even invested in a cargo plane in the 1980s, without success.


“What we have the advantage against the various attempts at cargo-oriented aircraft that didn't work out is that we have been operating on the air mode for many years. We are one of the largest air cargo shippers in Brazil,” he said.



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