Postal deliveries slowly getting back to normal

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Mail movement, slowed or halted in some areas by the ban on commercial aviation, is resuming, but delays will still occur.

The Postal Service is obtaining additional space on Amtrak trains, using its own fleet of 210,000 vehicles and contracting for additional space with 7,000 trucking companies, spokesman Mark Saunders said Friday.

Nonetheless, Saunders said, people should continue to expect mail movement to be slower than usual. Mail that usually takes three days to deliver, for example, will probably take an extra day or two, he said.

Normally, the U.S. Postal Service delivers about 650 million pieces of mail daily, with between 20 percent and 25 percent moving by air, Saunders said.

Federal Express returned to the air, and on Thursday was able to carry about half the 3 million pounds of mail it usually flies each day, Saunders said.

But the Federal Aviation Administration is continuing to ban transport of mail and cargo on most passenger planes, preventing the post office from sending mail via the airlines.

Alaska Airlines, which carries about 550,000 pounds of mail a day to Alaska, was exempted from the ban on Friday, permitting movement of mail to a state where many communities are accessible only by air.

The post office said special arrangements have also been made to fly mail to Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

Incoming mail from overseas is now moving into the mail stream, and outgoing international letters are being collected pending the start of outbound flights.

The one area where delivery is expected to continue to be a problem is lower Manhattan.

United Parcel Service reported that it has restored its U.S. air operations and has moved all next-day packages. The company said it expects international service to resume during the weekend.

Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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