IPC supports the global postal industry in challenging times
by Holger Winklbauer, CEO, IPC
Holger Winklbauer explains how IPC is responding to the current challenges, shares the organisation’s learnings and advice for others, and looks ahead to a post-crisis CEP industry.
How are we responding to the current challenges?
Firstly, the postal sector has been playing a key role to society since the beginning of the crisis. While we are all confined in our homes, posts keep functioning and offering essential services to the community. For many people, postmen and women who continue to deliver their mail and parcels are a vital link with the external world. To continue performing this role, while ensuring the safety of their employees, posts have to constantly develop new solutions.
Since the beginning of the COVID19-crisis, IPC has focused on the operational challenges, ensuring that sharing information, assistance and cooperation between posts continue functioning. Since the outbreak began in China, IPC has coordinated weekly conference calls with over 50 posts, including all IPC members, and many other non-members such as posts from China, Israel, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. Initially, the calls focused on how to manage the flows to and from China.
In the meantime, since all countries are now impacted by the crisis, the calls aim to allow posts to share an update on their domestic and cross-border status. The objective is also to maintain connections between Europe and the USA and between Australia, New Zealand and Europe.
IPC is currently working with interested posts to create a dedicated air link between the continents to keep the mail flowing. IPC is also working with the interested European posts in ensuring that the intra-European network continues to operate through closed transits arrangements. IPC and posts are also exploring combined hubbing through an enhanced road network.
In addition, IPC has launched a survey among all posts, members and non-members, to gather and share specific precautions they took to ensure staff safety and the operational measures that accompany such precautions while keeping the domestic network operable.
What are our key learnings and advice for others?
We are dealing with an extraordinary situation which requires extraordinary measures. The spread of the Coronavirus is unpredictable. We have to demonstrate a lot of flexibility and it is vital to have strategies in place to deal with such crises. The necessary infrastructures need to be in place to enable as many people as possible to work remotely. The right communication channels need to be ready to be activated in case of crisis. Our members have proved to be well prepared for such crises and able to ensure business continuity, even when the situation has a severe impact on staff availability.
How could the CEP industry change after the coronavirus crisis?
It is very difficult to predict what the world will look like post the Coronavirus crisis. What will be an overall impact on the economy and society is impossible to envisage at this stage, but it is clear that the world will not be the same. Many small, mid-size and even large companies may not exist anymore. Many people may become unemployed. The public debts of the governments will be significantly higher due to measures taken to address the crisis. The economy will progressively recover.
An immediate consequence for posts will be to deal with the backlog of international mail items waiting for delivery.
The current confinement measures have led to a change of habits, for instance, an enhanced use of teleworking and teleconferencing. These habits may lead to new models and new types of businesses. The crisis also leads to an increase in e-commerce. If this trend continues after the crisis, this could obviously have an impact on the postal industry. It is too early, however, to draw conclusions at this stage.