DHL to invest 114 million at Zaventem

The courier company DHL is investing 114 million euros in Brussels Airport at Zaventem. DHL is to build a new sorting centre and an office building. The investments are expected to deliver 200 new jobs by 2020. DHL claims that the expansion will not impact on noise nuisance levels for local residents, in the sense that it will not involve more night flights.

The new hub will cost 114 million and will triple the present capacity, from 12,000 to 39,500 dispatchings per hour. DHL currently employs some 1,000 people across Belgium, but this number should increase with 20 per cent to an estimated total of 1,200 in the coming years.

The present hub was built in 1985. DHL used to concentrate its European activities in Zaventem, until it was decided to move the European hub to Leipzig, Germany, in April 2008. But Brussels kept an important place in DHL's activities, posting a 10 per cent growth over the past 5 years. The present sorting centre is close to reaching its maximum capacity.

The band new hub will be built at the Brucargo site, in the former Virgin Express buildings. DHL will abandon its present buildings, which belong to Brussels Airport. 

"No extra night flights"

Koen Gouweloose, DHL's Managing Director, claims that the expansion plans will not lead to extra night flights. "We will respect the maximum of 16,000 per year, which was imposed by law." However, he could not rule out that it will involve extra flights during the day. The issue is a very sensitive one. The presence of the big airport very close to the densely populated city, is constantly creating noise nuisance problems. The issue also started a political battle between the Flemish Region and thr Brussels Region.

The Flemish PM Geert Bourgeois (N-VA) is happy with the DHL plans. "This strengthens Zaventem's international position, and it's a boost for our export capacities." Bourgeois adds that the investments will create 400 extra positions: 200 directly and another 200 indirectly.