Courier Industry Overview

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American Industry Overview: Air Courier Services
The air courier services industry includes establishments primarily engaged in furnishing air delivery of individually addressed letters, parcels, and packages (generally under 150 pounds), except by the U.S. Postal Service. While these establishments deliver letters, parcels, and packages by air, the initial pick-up and the final delivery are often made by other modes of transportation, such as by truck, bicycle, or motorcycle. Also classified in this industry are separate establishments of air courier companies engaged in providing pick-up and delivery only, "drop-off points," or distribution. Industry Snapshot Definition of Service.

The air courier industry is a division of the air cargo industry. As defined by the Air Transport Association (ATA), cargo is the total volume of freight, mail, and express traffic. The air courier division includes both freight (generally under 150 pounds) and express mail. As defined by the ATA, freight and express mail are commodities of all kinds, including small packages, counter service, express service, and priority-reserved freight. Air courier service does not include the delivery of U.S. mail. Major Integrators.

In general, two kinds of companies have provided air courier service in the United States. First have been the integrators or all-cargo companies, such as FedEx, United Parcel Service (UPS), and DHL. These companies have a fleet of planes, carry cargo only, usually fly at night, and have ground transportation and personnel for door-to-door pick up and delivery. Integrators control 90 percent of the domestic market for envelopes, packages, and freight. Combination Carriers.

Air courier service also has been provided by passenger airlines, such as American Airlines. These companies transport cargo (freight, express, and mail) in the holds of their passenger aircraft. They fly during the day, since passenger traffic is their first priority. Passenger airlines have...
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