"Who thought our global economy would go the way that it has?" said Perris City Councilman Mark Yarbrough, incoming chairman of the joint powers authority.
"This is a disappointment, but the good will eventually outweigh the bad."
But not everyone was unhappy.
The news of DHL's departure was greeted with relief by residents who live along the airport's flight paths and by community activists who have battled airport authorities over aircraft noise and other concerns.
"We're saddened about the people who are going to lose their jobs, but as far as the community is concerned, the nightmare is finally going to be over and we will be able to sleep again," said Catherine Barrett-Fischer of the Community Alliance for Riverside's Economy and Environment.
In May, DHL said it was closing one-third of its US branch offices, reducing its workforce and developing an agreement with Atlanta-based UPS, the world's largest package-delivery company, to take over air shipments for DHL, which currently contracts out the work to two air carriers. On Monday, DHL said it was still in talks with UPS.
DHL's other US operations — global freight forwarding, supply-chain services and global mail — aren't included in the cuts, the company said. More than 25,000 people work in those divisions.
"We will definitely invest in this business going forward," Appel said. "So the US remains the key market for us. We are just leaving the domestic US express markets."
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It will be used for redevelopment and future use as an airport/commerce park.
Tempers flared Wednesday morning as a commission addressed allegations of mismanagement and scandal at the beleaguered cargo shipping hub at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside.