Inbound mail dropped by half during pandemic

Inbound mail volume has dropped 52 percent since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March of 2020, says the nation’s postmaster Tupa'i Tupe Ualolo Nun Yan.

In response to questions from the Samoa Observer, Tupa’i, Chief Executive Officer at the Samoa Post said the decline is expected due to major changes made to daily flights that carried airmail.  

“Inbound mail volumes dropped by 52 percent since COVID-19 hit in March 2020 to Feb 2021, compared to the same period previously,” she said.

“The decline is expected, due to huge changes from daily flights before COVID-19 to [the] once-a-week flight now.”

The changes in flights have also led to sluggish receipt of mail from foreign countries, Tupa’i noted.

Sluggish inbound mail sent from foreign countries is the responsibility of the office of origin and not the local post office, she said.

The Observer has received numerous inquiries about slow-moving mail sent from foreign countries, namely the United States and Papua New Guinea (P.N.G.). 

The last batch of mail received from the United States via Honolulu, Hawai’i, was on 30 March, 2020, about a week after Samoa declared a State of Emergency (S.O.E.).

“Inbound mail from overseas countries is the responsibility of the Office of Origin in respect to possible connecting flights and international mail routing,” said Tupa’i.

“U.S.A. mail before COVID-19, were dispatched from their Honolulu Office of Exchange (O.E.) through Nadi, and the last dispatch received from U.S.A. (Honolulu, Hawai’i) was on 30 March 2020.” 

Samoa Post received some mail bags direct from Los Angeles, California but in general incoming mail from the U.S. has been low, she noted.

In regards to mail from P.N.G., Tupa’i said there are no direct dispatches from P.N.G. and Samoa.

“We received some mail bags from L.A.X. (direct), however, the traffic is quite low and all inbound mail received at [Samoa Post], are processed and sorted within one day,” she said.

“There are no direct dispatches from P.N.G. to Samoa, and P.N.G. mail is received as open transit through Australia, provided the P.N.G.-Australia border is open.”

Tupa’i advises locals expecting mail from overseas to contact the senders to have their items tracked.

Receivers also have the option of tracking mail online with a tracking number, she added.

“Locals who have mail from U.S.A. or P.N.G., must inform senders of these mail items, to track their mail items with the Office of Origin. On the other hand, most postal services have tracking numbers. They can track their mail items online providing information where their mail items are, at any time,” Tupa’i said.

She emphasised that Samoa Post is not responsible for finding flights to transport mail from foreign countries. 

“Samoa Post is not responsible for finding connecting flights for inbound mail, however, if tracking information showed inbound mail items arrived in Samoa, that’s when Samoa Post is fully responsible for delivery to addressees,” Tupa’i said. 

“On the same token, Samoa Post is fully responsible for finding connecting flights for outbound mail from Samoa to destination countries, ensure mail bags arrived to final destinations and items are delivered to rightful addressees.”

She notes that the re-emergence of the pandemic in other nations is affecting mail services.

All mail coming into Samoa must be routed through New Zealand and vice versa for outbound mail from Samoa. 

“We also informed all postal administrations around the world, through the Universal Postal Union, that international mail destined for Samoa, must be sent opened or closed transit through New Zealand, as the only flight arriving [or] allowed into Samoa, is from New Zealand. Samoa Post send mails to all countries around the world utilizing the once a week Air New Zealand flight out of Samoa, except Honolulu due to border closure,” Tupa’i told the Observer.

“It must be noted, we are still under S.O.E. and opening and closing of international borders for international mail, is outside of [Samoa Post’s] control. Though our outbound mail is transmitted and received by destination countries successfully, customers are constantly reminded of possible border closures at any time that can cause delays in mail delivery. We have witnessed the re-emergence of the pandemic in some countries affecting postal services and mail deliveries around the world.” 

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