DOT Schedules DHL Airways Prehearing for May 27

The Department of Transportation confirmed yesterday that the chief administrative law judge overseeing the DHL Airways citizenship case has scheduled a pre-hearing conference for May 27.

The DOT is investigating whether DHL Airways violates laws limiting how much a foreign entity can hold in a U.S.-based airline. Currently, Germany's Deutsche Post World Net owns 25 percent of DHL Airways, the legal limit a foreign investor can own in a U.S. airline. Congress had ordered the DOT to investigate long-standing complaints from FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service that Deutsche Post World Net effectively controls DHL Airways.

The DOT also confirmed that Ronnie Yoder, the DOT’s chief administrative law judge, must issue a recommended decision on the case by Oct. 31. Yoder asked the DOT to delay the original Sept. 2 deadline it has imposed for a decision in the case.

The outcome of the DOT investigation also could affect plans by Deutsche Post unit DHL Worldwide to buy Airborne Inc.'s ground delivery business for $1 billion. Airborne's air operation would become an independent public company called ABX Air Inc.

FedEx and UPS also have filed proposals with the DOT charging that the Airborne acquisition may violate U.S. limits on foreign control of domestic airlines.

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