DHL Airways chief executive John Dasburg is leading a group of US investors planning to purchase 100% of the Chicago-based cargo carrier, including Deutsche Post's 25% stake. But DHL Airways will still have to defend its US citizenship status in US Department of Transportation (DoT) proceedings that began last week and are likely to last until late this year.

Germany's Deutsche Post owns DHL Worldwide Express, but DHL Airways is a separate Chicago-based company operating aircraft in North America. Deutsche Post confirms it is in talks with Dasburg's group over the sale of its stake in DHL Airways. Dasburg's group also plans to buy 75% of the airline that is currently owned by US citizens.

But 100% ownership by US citizens would not mean DHL Airways is a US carrier, argue rivals United Parcel Service (UPS) and FedEx. The US cargo giants, which are petitioners in the case being heard by the DoT, say DHL Airways is actually controlled by Deutsche Post even though technically it is US-owned.

A new US law passed in April by Congress changed how US airline ownership is defined. Under the new legislation, an airline is foreign controlled if it "receives 50% or more of its operating revenue over the most recent three-year period from a person not a citizen of the United States and such person, directly or indirectly, either owns a voting interest in the air carrier or is owned by an agency or instrumentality of a foreign state". The DoT has told DHL Airways that it is the airline's "burden" to prove its US citizenship.

Source: Flight International