Pre-hearing conference in DHL case

Pre-hearing conference in DHL case

The administrative law judge presiding over the inquiry into the citizenship of Astar Air Cargo, formerly DHL Airways, has scheduled a pre-hearing conference for Aug. 7 at 10 a.m.

The conference will set the stage for the Aug. 19 hearing at which attorneys for FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service will square off against lawyers representing Astar, Deutsche Post World Net and DHL International.

Judge Ronnie L. Yoder set a Tuesday deadline for a long list of documents, including witness lists and motions for additional discovery of documents and extensions of the deadline for discovery.

Separately, Yoder asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to clarify its July 30 order stating that his inquiry should be confined to Astar's current ownership. Yoder asked DOT to what extent, if any, Astar's prior ownership should be considered in evaluating whether Astar currently complies with U.S. laws governing airline ownership.

FedEx and UPS contend that Deutsche Post World Net and DHL International still effectively control Astar despite the July 14 change in airline ownership because they provide most of its cargo through a U.S.-based DHL subsidiary called DHL Worldwide Express.

Attorneys for Astar, now owned by BD Air Partners, an investor group led by John Dasburg, Astar's chairman and chief executive, contend that the airline fully complies with U.S. law.

A victory by FedEx and UPS would frustrate Deutsche Post's bid to become a major competitor in the U.S. express market. A victory for Astar, on the other hand, would help Deutsche Post gain a major foothold in the U.S. through Astar and Airborne Inc. Deutsche Post is expected to complete the acquisition of Airborne's ground operation network later this month. Airborne's shareholders are scheduled to vote on the $1.05 billion deal on Aug. 14.