Time is running out to ship out those gifts for the holidays, and shipping companies are working around the clock to make sure packages arrive smoothly and on time.
While many ground transportation shipping deadlines have passed to get packages in before the holidays, express shipping is still fair game. FedEx was the original express transportation company, and the company’s major hub is located in Memphis, Tennessee.
“Express is for shipments that are absolutely, positively critical, and have to be there in a very definitive time period,” said FedEx Vice President of Global Operations Control Donna Cook.
At the 24/7-staffed Global Operations Control Center, aircraft dispatchers, meteorologists, and other specialists do all the planning for shipments, and the busiest time of the year inevitably calls for a lot of planning.
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On average, 250 flights and 2.4 million packages go through the Memphis hub each day. But, FedEx expects to ship hundreds of millions of packages during the 2022 peak holiday season.
“Peak for FedEx is our Superbowl. We prepare all year. As soon as peak is over, and that’s early in January because we have the return season in January as well, we’re already planning for that next peak,” said Cook.
Giant containers, filled to the brim with packages, are loaded up into FedEx aircrafts each day. For example, the Boeing 777 aircraft holds about 60 containers. These containers are shipped out to every U.S. zip code and over 200 countries and territories.
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FedEx Senior Control Agent Maria Bonds has been working at the company for 31 years, and began her career unloading bulk trucks.
“The last nine years I’ve been up here in the tower, which is the best view in the hub. Up here we do a lot. We get the aircraft in and out without delay as much as we can,” Bonds said.
She said around the busy holiday season, there’s a lot of manipulation to make sure things go smoothly.
“We’re always manipulating to get the inbounds in and the outbounds out, it’s a lot of extra planning and work,” said Bonds.
But, Bonds said it’s all worth it.
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“There’s a lot of pride, we are Santa with a purple tail. We have a little city out here and everybody has a role whether it be the people on the ground, the pilots, the people in the tower, the GOC, everyone has a role and everyone takes pride in their role out here to get everyone’s packages there,” said Bonds.
By the time a package arrives at the hub in Memphis, it only sticks around about three hours before being shipped out. Cook said this year, the company is very well positioned to overcome any supply chain issues they’ve experienced over the last few years.
“We have a very developed airline network, it’s unmatched in the industry. We have facilities that we invest in, as well as technology that allows our peak seasons to go extremely well,” said Cook.
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