Mail service expected to return to normal if FAA lifts package ban

Maggie Hessel-Mial

University students waiting for packages from home might finally get those delayed care packages tomorrow.

Slowed mail service is expected to return to normal Monday evening if the Federal Aviation Administration lifts the ban on mail freight carried on all commercial flights in the United States.

With all flights grounded temporarily following Tuesday’s terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, packages nationwide sat undelivered.

“The FAA has not cleared mail on commercial airlines yet,” said Jim Ahlgren, customer relations coordinator for the Minneapolis Post Office. “But the FAA has made indications that the ban may be lifted (Monday night).”

All mail unfit to be sent via plane must be transported by truck and train, Ahlgren said, which slowed all mail delivery.

UPS and FedEx planes resumed their flights Friday, additionally improving the U.S. Postal Service’s processing. FedEx and USPS maintain a contract allowing FedEx planes to fly priority and overnight mail for USPS.

“If there is room on the FedEx planes, we can put first-class mail on it and there will be no delay,” he said. “But if first-class mail goes by train or truck, it may be delayed a day or so.”

Clare Clark, a window clerk at the Post Office branch on University Avenue, said customers have been extremely understanding about the delay in service.

“Most people understood it very well,” Clark said.

He said he has been stressing to customers overnight mail is still not guaranteed.

The post office was extremely slow last week, Clarke said, but began to pick up over the weekend.

“(Monday) was very busy, but I think the postal service has handled this entire situation well,” Clark said. “We did business as usual.”

Neil Grass, manager of the University’s addressing and delivering service, said the University has been unaffected as far as he knows.

“I’m not aware of any specific delivery on campus not getting there,” Grass said.

The USPS, on the other hand, deals with approximately 650 million pieces of mail daily, Ahlgren said.

“Only 20-25 percent of that mail goes via air, the remaining 75-80 percent- mail going 500 miles or less- goes via ground,” he said.

Ahlgren said while this amount is significant, anything traveling 500 miles or less goes via highway. All mail sent over 500 miles is usually sent through the air.

“By all indications, mail never stopped,” he said. “It continued to be collected and delivered.”