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In the World of Shipping: Drone Delivery and FedEx Panda Express
In this week’s installment of news in the shipping and mailing world, we’re taking a look at the extension of the U.S. Postal Service® and FedEx’s air express contract; UPS® testing drone delivery in Florida; FedEx’s Small Business Grant contest; and, how FedEx helped transport Bao Bao the giant panda from Washington, D.C., home to China.
USPS and FedEx announced that they have extended their express air transportation contract through September 29, 2024. The contract was originally scheduled to run through 2020, but FedEx Express will now continue to provide airport-to-airport transportation of USPS Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail, within the U.S., for an additional four years.
“We are pleased to be able to extend this agreement and to continue the outstanding service that FedEx Express has provided to the USPS for more than 16 years,” said David J. Bronczek, president and chief operating officer of FedEx Corporation. “This contract provides USPS with the operational reliability and flexibility they have come to expect from FedEx.”
UPS recently tested out home delivery via drone in the Tampa, Florida area, moving closer to a more automated delivery process. The HorseFly UAV drone took off from the roof of a modified UPS delivery truck, flew autonomously, dropped off the package and then returned to the vehicle, all while the driver separately continued on a delivery route.
UPS is still exploring how they want to use drones, however. “UPS is never looking to replace our UPS drivers,” said John Dodero, vice president of industrial engineering at UPS, calling drivers “the face of our company.” Rather, the drones may be used as delivery partners, to help drivers with delivery routes in more rural, spread-out areas.
FedEx opened their annual Small Business Grant contest on February 21st. U.S.-based for-profit small businesses with at least six months of operation under their belt are encouraged to apply. “The FedEx Small Business Grant Contest was created to show our support and commitment to small businesses,” said Bonnie Voldeng, director of go-to-market and content strategy for FedEx. “We want to connect with small businesses earlier in their lifecycle, becoming a proactive business advisor and a source of information beyond shipping.”
FedEx will award grants to 10 winners via a $120,500 prize pool. This year, FedEx is also awarding an additional dollar amount in credit to use towards FedEx Office print and business services to help winners run their businesses. Entries will be accepted through March 29!
How do you transport a roughly 200-pound giant panda across the world? By “FedEx Panda Express,” of course. A FedEx cargo plane adorned with a panda decal flew Bao Bao from Washington D.C. to China in late February. The plane carried Bao Bao’s caretaker, a veterinarian and four pilots, as well as over 75 pounds of food, including bamboo, apples, cooked sweet potatoes and leaf-eater biscuits.
As Americans said goodbye to the beloved Bao Bao, FedEx Express and Smithsonian staff worked behind the scenes to make sure the trip ran smoothly. For example, Bao Bao was introduced to her customized steel and Plexiglass enclosure a month prior to flight, so she could get comfortable with the space. By all accounts, the trip was a success, and Bao Bao is now adjusting well to her new home.
For more of the latest news and breaking developments in the world of shipping and mailing, keep checking back with Pitney Bowes Shipping Simplified.