The year that was: 2011
Our annual review of the year begins with a look back at the key events that shaped the mail and express industry in the first quarter of the 2011 calendar year…
In the first quarter of the year, the industry grappled with how to respond to declining mail volumes, how to engage with the internet generation and also reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the process…
As the year got underway, lawmakers in Europe were monitoring the status of liberalisation within the EU postal market, as more countries were set to open the doors to competition in the mail.
The UK government stressed that privatising the Royal Mail was the best way to provide a bright future for the organisation, splitting off the Post Office Ltd network in the process.
Regulators in the United States made perhaps the most accurate prediction of 2011 when they warned that getting much-needed USPS reforms enacted was not going to be easy this year.
In the parcel and express sector, FedEx and UPS were facing a probe by the US Department of Justice regarding certain signals that their pricing actions might be anti-competitive.
Meanwhile, significant changes in leadership were seen this month in three of the world’s major postal services, with Patrick Donahoe sworn in as the US Postmaster General, Deepak Chopra appointed president and CEO of Canada Post, and Wagner Pinheiro taking the reigns at Brazil’s Post and Telegraph Compan.
In February, Mexico hosted the year’s World Express and Mail Americas conference, during which Correos de Mexico discussed its plans to streamline operations and improve service quality.
The social unrest in the “Arab Spring” movement disrupted services, including in Egypt and in Libya.
In financial news, UPS recorded results showing “extraordinary” growth despite the winter weather disruptions, but others revealed that they had fared less well, including TNT, which issued a profits warning. The USPS started off as it would have to go on, posting a loss and warning that it might default on government payments because of its financial woes.
And, La Poste received regulatory approval for a EUR 2.7bn injection of state aid to help its modernisation.
This month, a number of postal services revealed progress in engaging with the digital world, with Canada Post launching an online marketing platform, La Poste launching a new Digiposte service, and even USPS suggesting it could find opportunities in the digital arena. The industry’s PosTech 2011 event highlighted the increasing influence of the internet on the sector’s activities.
The industry also continued efforts to cut carbon impacts, with FedEx expanding its fleet of more-efficient aircraft, and DPD trialling the use of natural gas powered vehicles, while UPS appointed its first ever chief sustainability officer, Scott Wicker.
In the US, as lawmakers debated problems with the Postal Service, the US Postmaster General urged fixes, rather than a government bailout, and regulators were split over whether eliminating Saturday deliveries would be a good idea to cut costs.
Also this month, a huge earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan, causing significant disruptions to mail and express services, and major damage to postal infrastructure.
“The year that was” will be continued in Part Two…