Astar COO: No DHL influence here

Astar COO: No DHL influence here

An Astar Air Cargo executive told a Department of Transportation hearing on Wednesday that DHL Worldwide Express has no influence over its operations.

Gary Hammes, who took over as chief operating officer of Astar Air Cargo, formerly DHL Airways, just six weeks ago, testified that while DHL pays to maintain Astar's fleet and contributes 90 percent of revenues, it does not interfere in day-to-day operations.

The hearing in Washington came as part of the ongoing investigation into whether Astar's ownership skirts U.S. law. FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service have charged that DHL Worldwide of Brussels and parent Deutsche Post Word Net, the German postal and logistics giant, illegally control American-owned Astar.

"(DHL) Worldwide has little, if any, say in how I run this airline," Hammes said during cross-examination by FedEx attorney Jeffrey Kelsey, according to a report by Reuters.

Astar has an 11-year agreement to haul cargo for DHL Worldwide, which provides a minimum of $15 million in revenue.

Burton Kolko, an administrative law judge for DOT, is slated to render a decision in the case Dec. 1. FedEx and UPS on Monday asked DOT to extend the deadline, and Kolko said at Wednesday's hearing he would ask the Bush administration to drop it or extend it to January.

Kolko is also awaiting a decision by a U.S. District Court judge in Washington on whether Astar attorneys have to turn over more documents in the proceedings. Kolko's decision will serve as a recommendation to senior Transportation Department officials, who will make the final determination.