DHL Express electrifies ground handling equipment at Brussels Airport

DHL Express will electrify a third of its loaders and tractors at Brussels Airport this summer. That is a total of 24 vehicles. The airport will set up the necessary charging infrastructure to keep time-critical shipments moving.

Image: Brussels Airport

According to DHL Express and Brussels Aiport, the move comes after a successfully completed test phase using electric tractors and loaders. Electrifying handling equipment will help the logistics provider reduce its carbon footprint at the airport by more than half. The companies also point out that DHL Express already switched to all-electric crew buses and tarmac cars.

The new electric vehicles are partially financed through the Stargate project, which received subsidies under the European Green Deal to develop projects for greener aviation. The exact amount of subsidies, or how much DHL is investing, is not specified.

“Electrifying a third of the ground equipment in just a few weeks – that’s quite a feat by our technical department,” says DHL Aviation’s CEO Kirsten Carlier. “A heavy electric tractor or a high loader for an aeroplane are not exactly the kind of vehicles you take along to the garage. All the maintenance and training is carried out by DHL employees, now including that of the new electric tractors and chargers.” 

‘We are pleased that we are taking the next important step in the electrification of ground-handling equipment within our Stargate project, and that DHL Express is taking the lead,”  says Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport. “This can drastically reduce both CO2 emissions and the noise impact of ground operations, which is important for both staff and local residents.”

The Stargate programme launched in November 2021 and will run until the end of 2026. DHL and Brussels Airport are just two of the 22 consortium partners. The goal is to set up 30 concrete projects that “focus on decarbonisation, the local environmental quality and the modal shift.”

For instance, earlier this year, Interparking, responsible for public car parks at Brussels Airport, added 700 new AC chargers for customers and employees. The airport also vowed to only purchase electric company cars. That move was not related to Stargate but a new regulation in Brussels. However, it also supports the airport’s goal of cutting carbon emissions.


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