*FedEx To Increase Rates

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Federal Express Corp., Memphis, announced yesterday that it will increase rates an average of 2.8 percent for shipments within the United States on March 15. Rates, however, for most shipments from the United States to many of the 210 countries served by FedEx's global network will remain the same.

FedEx has raised it rates every year since 1995, but does not raise rates as an annual practice. "We make the changes depending on the needs of the company and the market," said Carla Boyd, a spokeswoman for FedEx. Last year, rates increased between 3 percent and 4 percent.

"Customers make shipping decisions based on value and FedEx delivers the best value for money every day through reliable, information intensive transportation services," said David Shoenfeld, senior vice president of worldwide marketing in a statement. "We've worked hard to keep this increase the smallest possible."

Boyd said this year's increase was not tied to the threatened Federal Express pilot strike that took place during last year's holiday season--and the contingency plans related to it, which reportedly cost FDX Corp, FedEx's parent company, between $110 million to $129 million. "Our rates are independent of the pilot contract, vote, and the contingency pans," she said.

In addition to the rate change for shipments within the United States, FedEx announced the following price adjustments for specific flat-rate services for export shippers:

* 10kg FedEx Box rates to Latin America and the Indian Subcontinent are reduced by 17 percent.

* 25kg FedEx Box rates to the Caribbean are reduced by 15 percent

* 25kg FedEx Box rates to Latin America and the Indian Subcontinent are reduced by 25 percent

* 25kg FedEx Box rates to Africa and Eastern Europe are reduced by 4 percent

* 10kg FedEx Box rates to Mexico are increased by 22 percent

* 25Kg FedEx Box rates are increased by 14 percent

* The $1.00 residential delivery surcharge will also be removed from FedEx Express Saver service, which provides delivery in three business days within the continental U.S.

This removed charge comes on the heels of a similar $1 surcharge the United Parcel Service, Atlanta-a FedEx competitor--added to residential ground delivery rates in 22,314 rural 5-digit ZIP codes earlier this month. This surcharge was added to the already existing $1 charge UPS tacks onto packages delivered to residences.

Federal Express also unveiled the latest upgrade to its online tracking application. Now, FedEx customers can query and receive package status information for up to 25 shipments simultaneously, and forward the detailed tracking results to up to three e-mail addresses. In addition, a simplified feature has been added that enables users to enter only the tracking number instead of the ship date and destination data, which was previously required.

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