DHL, the first logistics company to begin operating in Iraq after the UN Security Council's vote to lift economic sanctions in 2010, is extending its services into the country from across the GCC and Levant.
The new service will offer time-definite deliveries for customers seeking to move heavier, less time-sensitive cargoes, and is primarily aimed at the oil and gas industry.
The service, designated "DHL economy select", was successfully tested earlier this year and will now link the GCC and Levant regions to Iraq through the company's integrated road and air network, for the first time.
"Our DHL economy select service into Iraq will complement our existing time definite service to Baghdad, which is a well established trade lane with little serious security implications," said Frank Ungerer, the UAE country manager for DHL Express.
"We possess the expertise and know-how to overcome the difficulties faced when shipping goods through the trade lanes such as Iraq. Oil and gas, spare parts and retail goods, are among consignment shipments expected to utilise this service, which will eliminate weight and size restrictions into Iraq and improve transit time for all our customers. There has been a huge demand from both existing and new customers."
The company was the first logistics firm to establish operations in Iraq in 2003 and has expanded across the country with 18 service points and three main gateways in the cities of Erbil, Baghdad and Basra.
DHL Express Iraq currently operates 117 lorries that handle on average 16,000 shipments per day, much of it servicing the oil and gas industry.
As well as daily flights into Baghdad and Erbil, and five flights a week into Basra, the company offers a trucking network from the port of Basra to anywhere in Iraq, supported by a security service, which includes route surveys and running private convoys to destinations including Mosul, Kirkuk, Tikrit, Balad, Al Asad, Erbil, Sulymaniah, Basra, Baghdad City and the Green Zone.
The company has also set up as an in-house customs clearance broker in Basra and in Umm Qasr. It assists in customs exemptions with the ministry of oil in Iraq for the import of oil industry equipment, as well as re-export from Iraq and all outbound customs clearances.
Its operations in the country have not been without incident. On November 22, 2003, shortly after takeoff from Baghdad en route to Bahrain, a DHL Airbus 300 cargo aircraft was hit on the left wing by a surface-to-air missile and forced to return to Baghdad for an emergency landing. The crew of three were unhurt.
However, recent operations have been smoother.
"To date, we have not faced any security issues in Basra or Baghdad and we maintain very stringent security procedures that are continually reassessed and updated when necessary," said Mr Ungerer.
"The insurance costs remain the same, in line with our standard terms and conditions. Each shipment needs to be logged via a questionnaire that needs to be approved prior to shipping. As undisputed market leader in the Middle East, we continue to expand our network and services with investments and enhanced service offerings to provide our customers with more cost-effective logistics solutions."