New postal service proposed after delays

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 January, 2010, 12:00am

Hongkong Post is considering adding a new mail service to Europe and Latin America after delays to Christmas deliveries in 2009 due to insufficient cargo space, the postmaster general says.

Clement Cheung Wan-ching, who took office in September, said the proposed service would be quicker and better than registered airmail but cheaper than Speedpost.

Under the proposal, a letter or parcel would be sent by air and then by road, which would take slightly longer than Speedpost.

Hongkong Post said it was exploring the feasibility of this service because of the delivery delays to outbound airmail packages due to airlines cutting back on flights, and a 30 per cent increase in mail over the past few months. Some packages sent airmail to Europe, Brazil and Russia were one to two weeks late.

'It'll be more flexible,' Cheung said, adding that there were more flights from Hong Kong to the US and western Europe.

For example, a package to Latin America can be sent by airmail to the United States and then transported by road.

A parcel for eastern Europe could be sent by air to Germany, then delivered by road. Letters to Brazil are now sent by a direct flight to that country and forwarded to the recipients.

Sending a 1 kilogram item to Brazil by Speedpost now costs at least HK$314, or HK$114.10 if delivered using the basic registered airmail service. The cost of postage for the same item using the proposed service would be in between these two rates.

Another Hongkong Post official said the idea was still in the preliminary stage, pending more tests and research. 'We have to do trial runs to check the quality and reliability of the alternative routings, as well as look at the costs involved before deciding if we'll launch the service,' the official said.

Hongkong Post already has a similar service called Speedpost Economy Express for mail to Guangdong. A 5kg package sent using this service means delivery within four working days at the earliest, which costs HK$95, plus a pick-up fee of HK$50.

With Speedpost, the same package may only take two days for delivery but cost at least HK$149 more.

The official said this service would be expanded to other cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin , Wuhan and Chongqing in about two months.

Hongkong Post may also set standard charges for parcels of a certain size, especially if they are light, for the Speedpost service.

The official said there had been a case in which a large box had been sent with a balloon inside. With postage calculated by weight, the cost was low despite the box taking up a lot of cargo space.

She said that this was just an idea and Hongkong Post had no plan to adjust fees at this stage.

It's in the post

Hongkong Post handled 191 million international mail items in 2008/09

The number of items that were sent by surface mail was: 21m