Air Transport World

Purolator: another face in the crowd.

Basking Ridge, N.J.-- Competition is fierce in the small package express business. No wonder. For the last few years it has been the fastest growing segment of air cargo. And it pays well, several times as much per pound as conventional air freight. So it seems that everyone wants to get a piece of the action. Ever since Federal Express revolutionized the market, forwarders have been metamorphosing into airlines and surface carriers have been sprouting wings.

Purolator Courier Corp. is a major player in this game. In 1984 its Courier Services Group delivered 87 million of what it calls time-sensitive packages, up 13.2% from 1983. Revenues of the group were $589 million, up 12.8%.

Understated size

According to Air Transport Association statistics--which understate the size of the total small package and air express market since they cover only 18 U.S. operators--shipments in 1984 totaled 375 million, an increase of 32.2% over 1983, and revenues totaled $3.375 billion, an increase of 26.1%. Included in the count are not only air express, but also same-day, next-day and second-day parcel shipments. Operators included in the ATA figures are Airborne, Alaska, American, Emery, Evergreen, Federal Express, Flying Tigers, Midway, Northwest, Ozark, PSA, Piedmont, Republic, TWA, USAir, Western and the U.S. Postal Service, as well as Purolator Courier. Conspicuous among the missing are such major operators as Delta, Eastern, United and UPS.

To put the Purolator picture into better focus, it's true that only a small fraction of the company's total shipments move by air--some 11.6 million packages last year, about 45,000 a night. …

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