Delivery times improved for priority lettermail in Europe in 2021, finds IPC

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On average, international priority lettermail in Europe was delivered in 4.1 days in 2021, compared with 4.4 days in 2020, according to research by the International Post Corporation (IPC).

The organization pointed out that this number was achieved despite the postal industry being affected by Covid-19 and its continued variants. According to the research, transit times and service quality were severely affected across Europe in various ways. However, the results show that post offices continued to be resilient and even initiated a slow recovery, having delivered about 60% of the mail in three days and more than 80% in five days.

The study found that national restrictions to fight the Covid-19 pandemic affected the domestic sorting, collection and delivery of all the posts surveyed, due to staff shortages. Transportation times were also heavily affected by international transport disruption, in particular the reduction of air transport capacity and capability in Europe, requiring solutions and adjustments on an ongoing basis, such as shifting to road or sea.

The research recorded mail from end to end, from posting in the origin country to delivery to the final addressee in the destination country. The data included the postal operations’ time for collection in the origin country, sorting, international transportation, processing and delivery in the destination country.

The 2021 results were based on a total of 80,000 test letters sent and received by 900 volunteers in the 27 EU member states, Iceland, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and the UK. Overall, 794 country-to-country flows were measured. IPC’s UNEX mail monitoring system measured the quality of service performance for end-to-end cross-border priority lettermail. The test letters were representative of real mail in terms of mail formats, induction and franking methods, delivery methods and geographical spread within each of the measured European countries. About half of the test letters contained radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, which were recorded by RFID readers as they passed through the postal facilities.

Holger Winklbauer, CEO of IPC, said, “The 2021 results reflect the efforts accomplished by posts to guarantee mail flows and ensure that there was a continued service to the postal customers despite the pandemic. Since the start of the pandemic, IPC’s priority has been to ensure mail continuity by facilitating information sharing and cooperation between posts in Europe and beyond and by putting in place alternative solutions to compensate for the lack of airline capacity.”

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