Air Transport World

Commuter-regional carriers capture substantial portion of new mail contracts; CAB sunset revives competitive contract bidding, spawns computer tracking under new USPS air shipment system.

Perhaps the old method of mail service carried a bit of past with it. Picture Pony Express riders catching a tossed bag of mail before galloping off into the sun, or a leather-jacketed pilot waiting for his mail pouch before flying into the distance from a dew-soaked sod field.

Mail carriage by the airline industry differs little from those early scenarios, with only facilities and equipment changed from the past. The planes are made of metal, are faster, have turbine power; the air strips are concrete.

But come Jan. 1 mail movement advances into the computer age when the United States Postal Service completes its transition into an entirely new mail management system. Understandably, USPS named the changeover effort the CAB Sunset Project.

The Post Office announced in September the new structure of its aerial mail shipment contracts, and the country's commuter and regional carriers garnered a substantial portion of the new contracts.

Two categories

Effective Jan. 1, 1985, only minutes after the Civil Aeronautics Board sunsets, these contracts divide mail carriage into two categories based on priority of the mail and guaranteed movement, or the lack thereof. …

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