Maltapost is handling a record number of parcels this Christmas as the pandemic prompts more people to shop online than ever before.

“Christmas is always busier but this year we are seeing even higher traffic and the number of parcels has reached a record high,” chief operating officer Adrian Vassallo said.

The postal company usually sees a 50 per cent rise in parcel volumes during Yuletide compared to other months. This year, there was an additional 20 per cent increase, he said.

This is putting great pressure on the system. Apart from the huge increase in parcels, the company is facing other issues brought about by the pandemic, with the number of flights dropping and delaying the arrival of parcels.

“Take the UK, for example, a place from where people order lots of parcels. We used to have several flights coming in daily. Now we only have three a week.

“Some service providers in the UK are opting to send the mail by trailer, crossing the English Channel.

“So, parcels that would previously have been in Malta within a few hours now take days to arrive,” he said, adding that similar situations were being faced with parcels from all over the globe including China, a popular market.

In anticipation of these delays, in mid-October, the company launched a campaign to encourage the public to process their Christmas online shopping early, indicating deadlines to help ensure parcels reached family and friends on time.

“Traditional mail volumes are in rapid decline and we see a drop every year. However, processing and delivery of parcels is more labour intensive than a simple letter so the workload on our employees has increased,” Vassallo said.

Maltapost staff, he explained, were working around the clock to deliver parcels to their destination as soon as they reach the country.

Journey of inbound mail items

All inbound mail arrives at the airport and, every morning, Maltapost staff scan all the mailbags and load them into their company vehicles.

They are unloaded at the head office, which is located in Marsa and scanned again at the central processing unit.

The mailbags are then opened and all tracked items are tagged with a local tracking number and scanned before being sorted out. 

Over the next 24 hours, each parcel is assigned to a courier or postal operator, depending on the size of the package, before, finally, being delivered to front doors all over Malta and Gozo.

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