German logistics group Deutsche Post said today it sees signs that business is normalising in Europe, but the coronavirus crisis continued to weigh in April after dragging down first-quarter earnings. 

Deutsche Post DHL is one of the world's biggest post and freight companies.

It said the pandemic depressed global freight volumes in the first quarter but boosted parcel shipments as consumers confined to their homes shopped more online. 

The Bonn-based company said it had seen express shipments in Europe recover in April after a dip in March, while parcel volumes, which soared to levels usually seen before Christmas in early April, moderated in the second half of the month. 

"Fundamentally the trend towards e-commerce will speed up," chief executive Frank Appel said. 

Mr Appel said the company had been able to compensate for the drop in global freight volumes through higher margins in air freight, helped by the fact it has its own fleet of aircraft as capacity is limited with most passenger planes grounded. 

Express deliveries have also picked up strongly in China since March, with growth stabilising in April, according to a presentation slide. 

Deutsche Post expects a negative effect from the pandemic on its results in April, finance chief Melanie Kreis said, but declined to give a figure. 

First-quarter group revenue rose 0.9% to €15.5 billion, while operating profit almost halved to €592m, including a €210m hit due to the pandemic, confirming preliminary figures it published last month. 

Deutsche Post said it could still not give full-year guidance for 2020, but confirmed its medium-term forecast for operating profit of at least €5.3 billion by 2022.