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Era of night mail flights ends after 62 years

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Land route instead of air freight

March 28, 2024

By Dominik Hochwarth

Reading time: approx. 2 minutes

Until recently, letters in Germany were also transported by plane. Now the chapter “Letter Flight” is over after 62 years. In the future, the postal service will only transport domestic letters overland.

PantherMedia B12544471

End of night mail flights: In the future, letters within Germany will only be transported overland.
Photo: PantherMedia / dell640

After more than six decades, Deutsche Post has closed the chapter on domestic letter transport. In the early hours of Thursday (March 28th) the last plane took off from Berlin towards Stuttgart, marking the end of an era. This farewell flight was preceded by almost simultaneous departures from Hanover, Munich and Stuttgart, so that a total of six pure letter machines began their final journey. This last shipment comprised around 1.5 million letters with a total weight of 53 t – a volume that corresponds to around 3% of the daily letter volume in Germany.

Economic and ecological reasons

The decision to forgo the special mail flights has both economic and ecological reasons. By shifting transport to overland routes, Swiss Post expects a significant reduction in CO22-Emissions by more than 80% per letter – an important step towards improving the climate balance. For decades, these flights were unavoidable for legal reasons in order to meet delivery deadlines. However, an upcoming reform of the legal framework will make these fast transport routes superfluous.

Also interesting: Deutsche Post goes electric: first overhead line truck on the E-Highway

The tradition of night mail flights began in September 1961 and reached its peak in the mid-1990s with an average of 430 t of freight in 45 flights per night. Since then, increasing digitalization has led to a steady decline in postal communication. This is reflected in falling demand and a gradual reduction in letter flights. Most recently there were 30 night mail flights per week.

Changes in the law provide a new starting point

As already mentioned, the legal situation for letter delivery is changing. Previously, it was legally required that the post office had to deliver at least 80% of all letters on the next working day. So Deutsche Post couldn’t avoid night flights. However, the government is slowing down by adjusting the postal law. In the future, 95% of standard letters must be delivered on the third working day and 99% on the fourth.

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