Washington: The financially struggling US Postal Service says it will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to deliver packages six days a week under a plan aimed at saving about USD 2 billion a year.
The Saturday mail cutback is likely to begin in August.
The move accentuates one of the agency`s strong points. Package delivery has increased by 14 per cent since 2010, officials say, while the delivery of letters and other mail has declined with the increasing use of email and other Internet services.
The agency in November reported an annual loss of a record USD 15.9 billion for the last budget year and forecast more red ink in 2013, capping a tumultuous year in which it was forced to default on billions in retiree health benefit prepayments to avert bankruptcy.
The Postal Service is in the midst of a major restructuring. Since 2006, it has cut annual costs by about USD 15 billion and reduced the size of its career workforce by 28 per cent to 1,93,000, officials say.
Under the new plan, mail would be delivered to homes and businesses from Monday through Friday only but would still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays. Post offices now open on Saturdays would continue doing so.
Over the past several years, the Postal Service has advocated shifting to a five-day delivery schedule for mail and packages and it has repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, appealed to Congress to approve the move. Though an independent agency, the service gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations but is subject to congressional control.
It was not immediately clear how the service could eliminate Saturday mail without congressional approval. But the agency clearly thinks it has a majority of the American public on its side.
The service said that the change is expected to achieve cost savings of approximately USD 2 billion annually when fully implemented.