No, the German express giant has not placed a huge order with Airbus or Boeing. Nor bought some used A380s from Emirates and had them converted to freighters. Nor gone all Amazon and acquired a fleet of drones. But DHL has added a new type to its fleet to get around the problem of urgent delivery in Los Angeles — the most traffic-congested city in the US.
In an example of reverse modal shift, DHL has switched from road to air to get packages from the airport to downtown for early morning delivery. The problem is that traffic in LA is so bad that meeting 09:00 delivery deadlines had become almost impossible. In response, and for banking and legal customers willing to pay the price, DHL switched from trucks to a Eurocopter AS355 helicopter to move packages from its LAX sortation facility to a dedicated heliport (on the roof of a building) in the city center. Last mile carriage is still done using vans, but DHL says the helicopter cuts as much as two hours off the trip from airport to city center. Video of the service is available on YouTube at http://youtu.be/cAHf9X0hvV0
DHL says the helicopter service, which it has also introduced in New York, will be expanded to include additional customers in the Los Angeles area