DHL Express : Time-Definite Shipments

Chitra Shinde
Chitra Shinde

Transporting urgent documents and goods reliably and on time from door to door, DHL Express is the undisputed global leader in international express shipping. Chitra Shinde, Vice President of Operations at DHL Express New Zealand, details the division’s operations in the country.


DHL Group (DHL), a multinational company headquartered in Germany, generated revenues of more than €94 billion in 2022.  

Over time, DHL has evolved from a document courier into an international express shipping company, boasting one of the world’s largest fleets of over 300 aircraft, carrying just about anything permitted for air carriage. Today, DHL is the logistics company for the world, with the purpose of ‘Connecting People and Improving Lives’. 

DHL offers customers a convenient door-to-door package delivery service, providing access to 220 countries and territories worldwide.  

Known for its speed and commitment to its customer promise of ‘Excellence, Simply Delivered’, DHL’s focus strategy resonates with every employee: “motivated people drive great service quality, which creates loyal customers and in turn a profitable and sustainable network.” 

As someone who has been with DHL for 25 years, I consider myself fortunate to have witnessed the company’s growth through investments in infrastructure, fleet expansion, introduction of automation, scalable software, and innovative processes.  


DHL Express, one of the five main divisions of DHL, commenced operations in 1969.  

The division started by flying shipping documents to pre-clear cargo on ships, followed by banking and other time-sensitive files. 

I started my career as a trainee at DHL Express in Mumbai, India. I have worked in five different countries, including Papua New Guinea (PNG), Fiji, Australia, and presently New Zealand, where I hold the position of Vice President of Operations. 

DHL Express began its operations in New Zealand in 1973, recently celebrating its 50th anniversary in October 2023.  

Renowned for our strong trans-Tasman connection, 76 percent of our exports head across the ditch to Australia.  

Schkeuditz, Germany - 29th May, 2022 - Many big cargo planes parked on Leipzig Halle airport terminal tarmac apron for loading, service maintenance. DHL air mail express fast logistic hub terminal

DHL Express first introduced an overnight aircraft service to connect New Zealand and Australia in 1991 via Auckland and Sydney. The aircraft operated five nights a week, and in 2018 was upgraded to a larger aircraft to cater to the growing demand for trans-Tasman trade. 

To further enhance our trans-Tasman service, we introduced an additional aircraft in 2020 that connected Auckland to Melbourne five times a week. This route was quickly upgraded in 2023 to accommodate higher demand.  

Moreover, this aircraft also flew to Christchurch, marking the first time DHL Express connected the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Our overnight service covers major cities like Whangarei, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua, Taupo, Napier, Hastings, Palmerston North, Queenstown, New Plymouth, Dunedin, Nelson, and Blenheim, with further connections to smaller towns.  

While everyone is asleep, our dedicated team starts operations as early as 2am (even before our farmers) to ensure the successful delivery of overnight services, so that customers can open their business with confidence around New Zealand.


We understand that our people are the core of everything that we do. For four consecutive years, we have been named one of the world’s best workplaces, ranking second globally and first in Asia, Latin America, and Europe.  

This is no easy feat for a logistics company that is so diverse with a presence across the globe. It is the result of relentless focus and a passion for people, led by a very competent senior leadership team.  

DHL Express believes in delivering great results without compromising on respect. We also ensure that our front-line supervisors and managers emphasise a passion for customers, speed, a can-do attitude, and getting things right the first time.  

By attracting and retaining the right talent, fostering collaboration, and promoting teamwork, we have built a culture that drives excellence. 

My role requires me to execute our global strategy locally. This involves motivating and developing our team’s skillsets to provide the best service to our customers.  

We prioritise inclusivity, collaboration, and creating a great place to work for all. To achieve continuous improvement, we actively seek input from our employees, leaders, business partners, and customers. 

Passion for continuous improvement is part of our DNA and the reason why we launched ‘First Choice’ – a worldwide programme to drive continuous improvement of processes and services.  

Through the Insanely Customer-Centric Culture (ICCC+) programme, we collect direct feedback from customers to identify areas for improvement based on their experiences. This approach has fostered an irreplaceable culture of excellence.


The recent COVID-19 pandemic was an unprecedented crisis that exposed the frailty of supply chains. Businesses faced challenges in sourcing products, experienced long delays, and dealt with cost increases.  

At DHL Express, we also faced significant disruptions as we lost access to passenger flights overnight, which is a significant part of our network, especially in this part of the world. To adapt, we chartered passenger flights and repositioned our network to maintain connectivity.  

We were able to change flight routes due to our expanded inter-continental network. We kept the world connected as we moved urgent medical supplies and lifesaving equipment and vaccines. This lack of air network capacity resulted in unprecedented demand for cargo space.   

In New Zealand, we also lost access to our domestic commercial passenger air network, prompting the need for us to introduce the new aircraft to connect the South Island to Auckland.  

From Auckland and Christchurch, we established road connections to reach all domestic locations. It was an intense time of unprecedented change, creativity, and innovation to ensure that our customers were not impacted and could rely on us for their own business continuity.  

As the logistics company of the world, we embrace our responsibility to set industry standards in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) matters. Due to the nature of our industry, we have a huge responsibility; we therefore set an ambitious goal in 2017 to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.  

To work towards this goal, we aim to electrify 60 percent of last-mile vehicles by 2030. We focus on implementing carbon-neutral designs for new buildings, educating employees as Certified GoGreen Specialists and engaging in environmental activities such as tree planting. 

We recently launched the GoGreen Plus service, which is about reducing carbon emissions using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). An aircraft flying on SAF emits up to 80 percent less CO2 over time than an aircraft flying on traditional jet fuel.  

At DHL Express, we consider ourselves facilitators of global trade, working closely with regulators and customers to ensure easy and accessible trading for all.

ZHUKOVSKY, RUSSIA - AUG 26, 2015: DHL Aviation operates a fleet
REPUBLISHED ON:Supply Chain Outlook
PUBLISHED BY:Outlook Publishing
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Chitra Shinde is the Vice President of Operations at DHL Express New Zealand.