USPS: Airline Snags, Snowstorms Held Up Mail

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The U.S. Postal Service said last week that a shortage of US Airways baggage handlers and flight attendants, a computer failure at Delta unit Comair and snowstorms were to blame for more than 100,000 pounds of delayed mail during the Christmas weekend.


The USPS cited backlogs in Cincinnati and Atlanta, which are the hubs for Delta Air Lines and Comair.


US Airways had to cancel more than 350 flights during the weekend when a significant number of baggage handlers in Philadelphia and flight attendants elsewhere called in sick. Union officials denied reports of an organized effort by workers to disrupt the bankrupt airline, which mishandled more than 10,000 pieces of luggage.


Also, snowstorms and freezing rain in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee hampered not only USPS operations, but also the work of the nation's largest package shippers, including UPS, FedEx Corp. and DHL.


"It's one thing to deal with bad weather, it's one thing to deal with a labor stoppage and it's another thing to deal singly with computer problems," said Gerry McKiernan, a USPS spokesman. "And when they all come together, it's a cause for a backup."


McKiernan said the delayed mail included "almost everything but Express Mail."


About 7 percent to 8 percent of the USPS' domestic mail is moved by commercial carriers.


In a service advisory appearing on its Web site on Dec. 28, the USPS said that it is "clearing backlogs that occurred due to airline disruptions over the weekend. Mail has been retrieved and is being delivered on alternate transportation."


Melissa Campanelli covers postal issues for DM News.com. To keep up with the latest postal news subscribe to our free e-mail newsletter DM News Daily by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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