Carriers ready for holiday peak

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Express delivery and logistics company DHL, Plantation, FL, has been making final preparations at its facilities nationwide to ramp up for the 2006 peak holiday shipping season.

DHL expects holiday shipment volumes to climb until the peak day, Wednesday, Dec. 20, when DHL projects delivering more than 2 million pieces nationally. DHL customers also will have access to new products and enhanced technology this season to simplify shipping and to track packages.

To meet the peak season demand, the company is adding 300 daily truck routes and 63 new domestic flights weekly to its regular schedules. Hundreds of seasonal and part-time package sorters will be added at U.S. facilities.

With online tracking requests during December expected to be up 10 percent over 2005, DHL has made new customer-friendly, online tools available to shippers this season.

Package volume for UPS, Atlanta, is projected to grow from 15 million a day to more than 21 million on its busiest day, Dec. 20. On the peak day, UPS said, it will deliver 240 packages every second through its worldwide ground and air network.

On Dec. 22, UPS will handle its largest volume of air shipments for the year by delivering roughly 5.6 million packages, more than double the normal average for air volume.

In the process of delivering those holiday packages, UPS said it would apply its tracking technology to help customers monitor the movement of their gifts. UPS  expects 130 million online tracking requests in the peak week, Dec. 18-22.

To meet the holiday surge, UPS will add roughly 60,000 seasonal workers. Its ground delivery fleet of 91,700 cars, vans and tractors will increase by more than 7,000 vehicles, and UPS Airlines will add 31 large jets for the period.

UPS also said it offers an Internet shipping option at UPS.com. This portal lets customers indicate service preferences, pay by credit card, print shipping labels and track packages. Once the label has been placed on the package, a customer can hand it to any UPS driver, arrange for a special pickup or drop it off at any of UPS' 70,000 shipping locations.

FedEx Corp., Memphis, TN, expects to make history with a record 9.8 million packages moving through its global FedEx Express and FedEx Ground networks Dec. 18. This is projected to be FedEx's busiest night ever, surpassing the 8.9 million packages on Dec. 19, 2005.

Other FedEx milestones this holiday season should include:

* The FedEx Freight less-than-truckload companies expect peak volumes in late November, delivering about 100,000 shipments on their busiest day compared with an average of 85,000 shipments daily.

* FedEx Ground projects handling its highest package volume Dec. 11, moving a record 4.9 million packages, up 12.5 percent over last year.

* Dec. 18 is to be FedEx Express' busiest night with an increase of 4 percent over last year as nearly 5.0 million packages move through the network.

* FedEx.com should break records as well, processing an average of almost 6 million online tracking requests daily during the peak month of December. This would be a 31 percent increase over 2005.

For the U.S. Postal Service, the peak mailing season covers Nov. 24 to Dec. 31, said Tony Pajunas, USPS vice president of network operations.

The agency supplements its air networks every holiday season with hundreds of additional trucks to move mail around the clock. The USPS also will buy more air capacity from its suppliers, raising its typical 20 million pounds of lift purchased per week to between 26 million and 30 million for the holidays.

Average daily volume processed through the year is 100 million. During the holiday season, it rises to 150 million. The USPS said it expects peak volume on Dec. 18, the Monday before Christmas, with 280 million cards and letters to be processed, the same amount sent last year.

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