By Evie Andreou
POSTAL officials insisted this week that mail sent abroad will reach its country of destination in time for Christmas as long as letters are posted by December 16 and packages by December 10.
Any delays after that would be down to the postal services of the country the mail is sent to but should take no more than two to three days, a senior postal service official said, adding that the same deadlines apply for Europe, Asia and America.
He was speaking after it was announced earlier in the week that the arrival of mail handled through Amsterdam will be delayed after Dutch airline KLM said it would no longer transport mail to Cyprus because its flights were overloaded.
The move affects mail arriving from the Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Ireland, South Africa, China, Hong Kong and Singapore. Post from the UK would not be affected, the post office said.
Senior postal services official Marinos Kortas told the Sunday Mail that the delays also affect only inbound mail, not mail sent from Cyprus.
“Mail from Cyrus to those counties is not affected. After the KLM’s decision, it is now up to those countries to make other arrangements so that mail to Cyprus is delivered by other carriers. We are in communication with them, and we are waiting for them to inform us of their new arrangements,” Kortas said.
Post office superintendent Paris Vouniotis said that a number of these countries have already made other arrangements.
Problems with mail transport have worsened since the demise of the national carrier Cyprus Airways (CY) in January, Kortas said.
“For instance, CY had two daily flights to the UK, so we would send mail there twice per day. Now we send the mail with other companies that fly there less frequently. So, yes, mail arrival could take a couple days longer than when the CY was carrying our bags,” he said.
Mail deliveries rely on a large number of airline carriers, he said, and delays may occur when flights leave mail bags behind because flights are full with passengers, which is more profitable for them.
“We get special rates from air carriers to transfer our bags, so when they need the space for passenger luggage, they leave mail bags behind for the next available flight,” he said.
It usually takes around one to two days for mail to reach the destination country and from there two to three more days to de delivered to the recipients.
“But we do expect delays since due to the Christmas season many students are flying home so companies will leave mail bags behind,” Kortas said.
In addition to normal airmail, the post office offers two types of express service: Quickpost and Datapost.
“Quickpost is for super fast deliveries but of course pricier, as we deliver mail and packages the very next day in main European cities, as long as we receive the package before noon,” Kortas said. “For this service we use the planes of a company that flies only cargo.”
Items sent by Datapost take 48 hours to reach recipients from the time it reaches the destination country, but only for main European cities.
“If the parcel is intended for other locations further than main cities, it takes longer,” he said.
In terms of delivery delays once post arrives in Cyprus, the post office insists this is a thing of the past.
Superintendent Vouniotis said that as soon as packages arrive to Larnaca, they are distributed within three days.
“If there are delays, they are due to postal agencies and airline carriers that transfer these packages, and all we can do, when we receive complaints for delays, is to kindly remind these agencies and inquire as to the whereabouts of the package,” Vouniotis said.
In recent years, the drop in the amount of post and technological advances have meant the department is no longer overloaded and packages are being distributed strictly within three days.
“Only perhaps during the Christmas season, we might experience increased work load, but even then, packages may be delivered with a two to three-day delay, but not more than that,” he said.
As regards the holiday season, in order for mail and packages to reach their destination by Christmas, packages must be posted until December 10, and letters by December 16. Local mail must be posted by December 18.
“Any mail posted after that date, will be delivered after December 28,” Vouniotis said.