Air Transport World

Small package-express business knows few bounds.

In the decade since Federal Express changed people's thinking about freight, both attention and profits have centered on the high-speed delivery of small packages.

To a large extent, that is still true. Competitors continue to enter the priority business, concentrating on small packages, and now documents, hoping they, too will strike it rich as Wall Street darling. (one hundred-plus investment houses signed up to participate in Federal's most recent common stock offering). Surprisingly, some have done well merely aping Federal Notwithstanding United Airlines' failed experiment in door-to-door express and Flying Tiger Lines' current efforts, other firms have hit pay dirt.

Airborne Freight Corp., for a time, continued carrying traditional freight alongside express, small-package service. Eventually, it put more and more emphasis on express, especially for small packages and documents, and its financial results brightened.

Emery Worldwide, while continuing to serve its traditional medium-to-heavy-weight markets, also has recognized the potential of small packages and documents delivered overnight. The company already delivers 98% of its shipments overnight but, says Emergy Chairman John Emery Jr., "The most dynamic growth is in urgent letters." To tap that growth, Emergy invested $1.6 million in a computerized envelope sorter that can handle 10,000 envelopes an hour. in the third quarter of 1983 Emery carried 704,000 envelopes compared with 406,000 in the same 1982 period. High-yield attraction

Purolator, historically an urban courier concentrating on short-haul, surface operations, has expanded into air express and has begun a fleet acquistion program. United Parcel Service, whoe specialty has been low-cost surface deliveries, now has its own, expanding fleet of aircrafts so it can grab some of the priority air market. DHL, a company known primarily for its international courier services, has expanded its U.S. courier and small-package business dramatically in the past few months.

What is it that is attracting so many companies to the small package/express service? Quite simply, the high yields in a business that seemingly knows few bounds. …

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