FedEx Express prepares for ‘biggest’ peak holiday season in its history
FedEx Express’ peak season always happens on the holidays, but this year the air shipping company expects it to be its biggest yet, Rolando Medina, director of operations in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean predicted.
Because of COVID-19, people are looking to expose themselves less, and so, online sales have increased significantly. And because of the risk of getting together, they are sending their home-cooked meals through the mail, making the number of packages soar, he said.
“Last year, Cyber Monday sales topped more than 33 million packages and this year it is expected to be bigger than ever,” Medina said.
While FedEx expects this year’s package volume to “exceed every other,” the company does not have a specific prediction as the Christmas holiday approaches, he said.
Medina explained how FedEx’s goal was to reach 100 million packages delivered by 2026, but now that number may be recorded ahead of schedule — by 2023 — thanks to the surge in e-commerce, and more businesses turning to shipping their goods.
In recent months, FedEx has adopted safety protocols required to protect employees — face masks, hand sanitizers, gloves and wipes — as well as its fleet of aircraft and trucks, which are “disinfected constantly,” he said.
FedEx has transportation hubs at the Rafael Hernandez Airport — where it has assigned a Boeing 767 — and at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, where it has an MD11 aircraft in place.
The planes make two daily round-trips between Memphis and Puerto Rico, for a total of four flights. FedEx also has a local fleet of 207 trucks and six shipping centers, for which it has hired temporary employees for the holiday season.
The majority of Puerto Rico’s packages are sent to Texas, the U.S. mainland’s eastern seaboard, Europe and international destinations such as Brazil and other South American countries. Most of these packages contain technology items or food, and nowadays on a larger quantity, FedEx officials said.
Also included in those holiday shipments are Puerto Rico’s traditional “pasteles,” for which special care is required. FedEx says they must be frozen and placed inside a foam package, which it sells. For extra protection, it adds foam peanuts, bubble wrap and if necessary, gel wrap.
This year, because FedEx is handling a higher volume of packages, Medina said the shipping deadline is Dec. 23rd so they arrive at their destination on Dec. 25th. Packages being shipped through FedEx’s more economical pricing tier must be delivered to the carrier by Dec. 22nd, he said.
For New Year’s, the shipping deadline is Dec. 30th and Dec. 29th for economy packages, although FedEx urges people not to wait until the last minute to deliver their boxes.
Finally, Medina said FedEx is working on a special project related to the upcoming arrival of COVID-19 vaccine shipments to Puerto Rico, although he refrained from revealing too many details.
“As the crucial moment to distribute COVID-19 vaccines approaches, FedEx is preparing to help out,” Medina said. “We extended our hand to the U.S. and Puerto Rico governments. We have available temperature controlled [areas], special medical help, urgent transport and other important mechanisms to ensure safety.”