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Postal services face air capacity shortage and Brazilian Correios warn of delays

The 95% reduction in passenger flights and a 25-30% increase in demand for e-commerce are putting pressure on mail transport

Cargo being loaded onto a passenger airplane
Cargo being loaded onto a passenger airplane. Photo: Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock
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  • International air transport and postal organizations are urging governments to support the movement of mail by air during the COVID-19 crisis;
  • Brazil’s postal service Correios said that both shipments and imports have been disrupted and it is not guaranteeing delivery dates;
  • The president of Brazilian ecommerce association says consumer harm is limited to extended delivery times, an issue that is being informed by merchants.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU) warned that global air capacity for postal services is insufficient and urged governments to do more to support the movement of mail by air during the COVID-19 crisis.

Owing to the drastic 95% reduction in passenger flights, which are typically used to transport mail, and a 25-30% increase in demand for e-commerce as customers and businesses resort to online purchasing in response to social distancing restrictions, postal administrations are facing a challenge in sending and delivering international mail, in particular, cross-continental mail.

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In Brazil, the national postal service Correios issued a statement saying that “as a result of measures against Coronavirus (COVID – 19) in several countries, there is no way to guarantee that delivery deadlines for international shipments will be met. Both forwarding and distribution are hindered by the decrease or even lack of flights, decrease in the number of employees allocated in the distribution of postal items and even suspension of delivery [in some foreign countries]. With regard to imports, in some cases the cargo forwarding has been compromised from the beginning, and contact with foreign postal services is being maintained to optimize shipments.”

Correios also published a list of countries to where shipments are temporarily suspended from its services in Brazil . Imports from these places are still occurring but they may be delayed or jeopardized.

According to Mauricio Salvador, president of the Brazilian Association of Electronic Commerce (ABComm), there have been complaints about parcel distribution in the country. “In general, the postal service increased delivery estimates. There are some 5-day routes that are taking 3 weeks to be completed for simple parcels, and express deliveries have had an extension from 2 to 4-day deliveries. To some extent, that’s fine, because the carriers themselves need more time. But this is not a problem for consumers because merchants are being very clear about delivery. If it is being delayed, they are informing the consumer”, he told LABS.

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Attention must be paid to mail border-crossing, say organizations

IATA and UPU are calling on governments to facilitate the flexibility that airlines need to meet this critical demand by removing border blockages to ensure trade flows continue, avoiding unnecessary regulations and fast tracking the issuance of permits for chartered operations.

The organizations are also working to support posts’ use of cargo flights in addition to commercial passenger flights by providing information on the airlines and cargo carrier status, available new alternative routes and best practices.

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Airlines have been required to cut passenger services in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19. So, it’s vital that everything is done to support the smooth movement of mail which is an important component of society.

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“Posts are trusted partners in the delivery of goods, vital medical supplies and essential information on the pandemic. The cancellation of more than 4.5 million passenger flights – the primary means of transporting post – has meant that capacity is scarce, costs more and takes longer. Action needs to be swiftly taken to address the shortfall in air cargo capacity and to keep the mail moving,” said UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein.

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G20 governments, at their recent emergency meetings, committed to “minimize disruptions to trade and global supply chains and identified the need to prioritize keeping air logistics networks open and functioning efficiently. Posts and airlines are cooperating to meet this priority by ensuring that reliable operations continue throughout the pandemic.