ASTAR USA helps DHL take on delivery giants FedEx and UPS on their own turf. Hiring the carrier's fleet of some 8 aircraft enables DHL and other customers, including the US Air Force, Department of Defense, and the United States Postal Service, to achieve overnight delivery of virtually any kind of cargo. ASTAR's service includes scheduled as well as chartered flights. In early 2009, ASTAR suffered a blow to its business when -- in order to cut costs -- DHL was forced to shut down its US express delivery operations. ASTAR and other carriers continue to operate DHL's international shipping services to and from the US, albeit at a reduced level. An investment group led by CEO John Dasburg controls ASTAR.
ASTAR was initially founded in 1972 as DHL Airways. John Dasburg's group bought DHL Airways from DHL and its parent Deutsche Post in 2003 and changed its name. The transaction enabled the carrier to comply with US restrictions on foreign ownership of airlines, which became an issue when DHL was acquired by Deutsche Post.
DHL bought back into ASTAR as a minority investor in 2007. The package delivery giant stayed within the limits of the law by acquiring a 24.9% voting stake and a 49% equity interest. At the same time, DHL extended its contract for ASTAR service through 2019. Nonetheless, DHL's domestic withdrawal coupled with the downturn in demand, has forced ASTAR to initiate a series of pilot reductions, cutting its workforce by almost 65%.