Carriers Ready for Holiday Crunch This Week

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The U.S. Postal Service, United Parcel Service and FedEx all will have their busiest days of the year this week.

The postal service said that its busiest mailing day was Dec. 16 with 850 million pieces of mail entering the system, while Dec. 18 will be the busiest delivery day. Average daily volume from Nov. 29 to Dec. 31 is 715 million pieces.

To deal with the volume, the USPS said that for the two weeks prior to Christmas its National and Area Operations Center network operates around the clock, sharing information on operations and mail flow between mail processing and distribution centers and with major mailing customers.

Many post offices will have longer hours each day and will be open the two Sundays before Christmas. A Holiday Network Hub in Indianapolis began using 44 additional cargo airplanes dedicated to moving the extra holiday volume, and hundreds of trucks were added.

The USPS also said that temporary help during the holidays is minimal this year because of advances in mail-processing technology.

Dec. 19 will be the busiest day for Atlanta-based UPS Inc., when the company delivers in excess of 18 million packages to their destinations, more than a 35 percent rise above its average volume of 13.6 million packages a day.

Volume for UPS air express deliveries will crest Dec. 24 with a global volume of about 4.5 million air packages, more than double the norm.

To accommodate the surge in volume, UPS added 60,000 seasonal helpers to its work force of 360,000 and more than a dozen large jets to supplement the more than 600 aircraft in operation year-round. More than 1,300 UPS flights will take off this week, up 45 percent from a typical week.

UPS also expects a record 12 million online requests Dec. 19, nearly double the average rate of 7 million. Many will come from online shoppers, 55 percent of whom pick UPS as their shipper when buying online, according to a recent study by Forrester Research.

Dec. 19 also is to be the busiest day for FedEx. The carrier expects to handle more than 4.4 million packages that day. FedEx Ground's busiest day was Dec. 2, when FedEx said it handled more than 3 million packages, compared to a normal daily average of more than 2 million.

Use of this holiday season is expected to more than double for the second year in a row, hitting a record of more than 600,000 transactions Dec. 23. FedEx also anticipates a daily peak of about 3 million online-tracking requests in the days leading to Christmas, compared with about 2.8 million average daily tracking transactions.

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