It's getting a little late to ship presents cross-country in time for the holidays, but it's not impossible quite yet. You'd better get a move on, though. FedEx (NYSE: FDX ) and United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS ) can still make the magic happen, thanks to their incredibly sophisticated shipping networks.
Here are some fun shipping facts to consider as you pencil in that last address label:
Getting back to that antique vase you're giving Aunt Mildred, UPS will deliver on Christmas Eve if you send an overnight package by Monday, Dec. 23. FedEx can match that, but for real panic shipments in which money is no object, FedEx also offers same-day delivery across all 50 states and 365 days a year (no word on leap days).
That kind of nationwide coverage takes more than just trucks. Both companies are registered as airlines in their own right; FedEx operates 643 aircraft, while UPS owns or charters 530 planes. Separately, the fleets are about the size of fifth-largest domestic airline, U.S. Airways. Together, they rival Delta 's (NYSE: DAL ) market-leading 1,280 aircraft.
The holidays are incredibly busy for both of the global shippers. UPS peaked on Monday, Dec. 16, when it picked up 34 million packages. FedEx peaked a bit earlier, sending out 22 million packages on Dec. 2 -- Cyber Monday really does make a difference!
FedEx needed 20,000 seasonal workers to fill this sudden (but expected) volume surge. On a typical day outside the holidays, FedEx ships about 10 million packages. UPS is also doubling its normal volume, adding 55,000 temporary workers to handle the crunch. The rest of the year, UPS employs about 322,000 American workers.
Location, location, location! FedEx is headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., and UPS runs its global shipping hub in Louisville, Ky. These Southern nerve centers are the epitome of efficiency for nationwide shippers, as they sit very close to the shifting geographic center of America's 314 million consumers. Nearly half of UPS' air packages pass through the Louisville Worldport.
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