BURLINGTON, DHL TO INTERLINE W. COAST FREIGHT BOTH LINES SAY THEY'LL BENEFIT

BURLINGTON, DHL TO INTERLINE W. COAST FREIGHT BOTH LINES SAY THEY'LL BENEFIT

Burlington Air Express' decision to tender traffic to DHL Worldwide Express on an underused Seattle-to-Portland, Ore., flight could lead to more such moves, executives from both companies say.

"There is mutual benefit for both of us," said Glen C. Gates, DHL's director of charter and contact services.Glen Beecher, Burlington's vice president, air operations, estimated total value of the deal at about $1 million annually, with the benefits divided equally between the two carriers.

"This is a test," Mr. Gates said.

Should logistics permit, similar interline deals may be arranged for other markets, Mr. Gates added. The highest priority goes to routes served by both carriers where each makes multiple stops en route. In addition, one carrier must have enough excess capacity to haul the other's shipments.

Burlington is considering extending its agreement with DHL to cover the freight flying between Boston's Logan International Airport and Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Conn., Mr. Beecher said.

Under the recently completed deal, a DHL Boeing 727 freighter carries Burlington's traffic, as well as its own, between Seattle and Portland. DHL gets a fee, based on weight, for hauling Burlington's shipments, mostly heavyweight items.

The move, in turn, allows Burlington to park its DC-8-63 freighter overnight in Seattle and avoid the two-hour round-trip each weekday to and

from Portland. This effectively extends the life and thus enhances the value of Burlington's aircraft.

Such deals make good economic sense, particularly in an industry where interlining freight is common, said Gerald M. Hempstead, Airborne Express' vice president, national accounts. Airborne competes with both Burlington and DHL.

A number of circumstances peculiar to the Seattle-to-Portland route made the initial deal possible, Burlington and DHL executives said.

Most important is the fact that two airlines' schedules are complementary. Significant delays would scotch the arrangement, officials said.

Burlington's Seattle flight originates at the company's hub in Fort Wayne, Ind., while the DHL aircraft departs from the company's sort center in Cincinnati.

As frequently is the case in the air freight world, Burlington and DHL pilots headed to Portland viewed each other across the ramp each morning at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and essentially departed "wing-tip to wing-tip," Mr. Gates said.

An added factor that made the agreement possible were the companies' ground handling facilities in Seattle and Portland. They had to be near to each other to facilitate easy transfer of freight. Finally, adequate space had to be available in the aircraft continuing to the final destination.

Burlington and DHL were able to cut the deal last month because they don't view each other as direct competitors. DHL primarily carries its own small overnight packages, as well as lighter-weight shipments tendered by freight forwarders.