Attack Aftermath: Parcel Delivery Delays Likely to Lengthen

Stamford, CT—With the Federal Aviation Administration’s unprecedented grounding of all flights in the U.S. remaining in effect from Tuesday morning until at least Thursday afternoon, United Parcel Service, Federal Express, and the U.S. Postal Service have shifted their air/express parcel deliveries to the ground, and delivery could be delayed for several days.

None of the carriers could make deliveries south of 14th Street in Manhattan or into the Pentagon in Washington, but all three continued making deliveries everywhere else in the U.S.

Although UPS’s operations were closed on Tuesday night, spokesperson Steve Holmes says that the Atlanta-based carrier continued to make deliveries on Wednesday using its trucks. “There may be some delays obviously,” he says, “but we’re moving as quickly as possible with our integrated ground/air network, by moving things from air to ground. Our intention is to try to get back in the air as soon as the FAA opens the skies again.”

And although the USPS suspended mail collection from New York mailboxes in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens on Tuesday and Wednesday, postal pickup and delivery services continued everywhere else on Wednesday. “We’ve rescheduled our transportation from air, which we’re largely dependent on, to our ground network, and by rail via Amtrak,” says spokesperson Greg Frey. He doesn’t know when the USPS will use air transport again, because the agency ships 95% of its air/express deliveries via commercial airliners and the remaining 5% on Federal Express planes.

Another USPS spokesperson, Mark Saunders, says that 20%-25% of all its mail is flown, so more than just the 50% of Express Mail and Priority Mail packages that rely on air transportation will be delayed. In the meantime, the USPS, which uses 6,000-7,000 trucking companies in addition to 210,000 of its own trucks for ground delivery, is looking for more resources from its ground network. “We’re also working with Amtrak to get more dedicated mail cars,” Saunders says.

And FedEx spokesperson Jesse Bunn says that the carrier “isn’t ready to say if we’ll fly” once the FAA allows airports to reopen. “On Tuesday night, we became an all-trucking operation, and we will continue that until [our] flights are able to resume,” Bunn says. “We expect that customers will see a 24- to 48-hour delay in shipments.”

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