In the opinion of Deutsche Post, the legally anchored time pressure in the delivery of letters should be weakened. Group CEO Frank Appel appealed to the legislator in Bonn on Tuesday to reconsider the previous requirement that at least 80 percent of the letters must be with the recipient on the next working day. “Does every letter – or more than 80 percent – actually have to be delivered the next day?” The manager made it clear that he no longer considered such a requirement to be appropriate in view of the declining demand for letters in the digital age. “Politics must understand that we need cost relief somewhere.”

The traffic light coalition wants to change and modernize the postal law in the current legislative period – its cornerstones are more than two decades old and come from a time when many citizens still wrote letters and postcards instead of e-mails and chat messages.

A legislative proposal could be tabled next year. With a view to this reform, which is immensely important for the group, Appel said: “We need different regulation: we cannot pretend that the world is like it was 20 years ago.” Today, many more packages and fewer letters are transported than back then.

According to company information, 83 to 84 percent of the letters posted arrive the following day – provided that it is not a Sunday or public holiday. If the 80 percent requirement were to be lowered, the company could take more time to deliver letters. This would reduce costs. Appel did not say how many percent the target should be reduced to.

For consumers, such a reduction would mean that letters take longer on average and that they sometimes have to wait longer. However, the question arises as to whether that would be so serious in view of the decreasing importance of letter mail in the digital age.

In addition to the time pressure specification, the current postal law also contains the obligation that the post office must deliver letters every working day. An EU set of rules contains a minimum requirement of only five working days a week including Saturday – if this were also applied in Germany, the Monday, which is chronically weak in terms of shipments, would no longer be the delivery day. Just a few years ago, an end to Monday delivery was being debated in the postal industry. But today Appel wants nothing to do with such a requirement. “We want to keep delivering every day,” he says. He justifies this, among other things, with the increasing number of newspapers, the delivery of which the post office has now taken over from publishers.

The Post is currently struggling with problems in delivering letters – in some places there has been a shortage of up to 30 percent of staff in recent months. According to the company, this is not a nationwide problem, but only a local one. According to Post, the reason for this is a high rate of corona sickness and the tense situation on the labor market.

Angered by letters that were lost or badly delayed, significantly more citizens complained to the Federal Network Agency in the past few months than before. When asked about the situation with letter delivery, Appel said: “We are seeing a clear stabilization of the situation with letters.” At the same time, however, he conceded that it would be unavoidable by the end of the year that “emergency plans” would have to be implemented in individual delivery districts. With the emergency plans, letters are only delivered every other day to take some pressure off the boiler.

Against the background of the wave of complaints, the President of the Federal Network Agency, Klaus Müller, recently called for his authority to be granted a new sanction option against the Post Office in the forthcoming postal law reform. According to Müller’s understanding, imminent fines could drive Swiss Post to perform better.

This demand met with a lack of understanding at Appel. He could not see what his company would do differently if the sanctions were fixed by law. “We would continue to try to find more employees,” said Appel. “Possible sanctions may be of interest to the public, but they will not help in the situation.”

The CEO and CFO Melanie Kreis presented figures for the third quarter on Tuesday. Mainly thanks to the brilliant business with freight, Deutsche Post DHL made a strong cash register, group sales rose by 20 percent compared to the same period last year to around 24 billion euros. Revenues in the freight division even soared by 38 percent, other divisions were also doing well. Group profit rose by 13 percent to 1.2 billion euros. The fact that the businesses were less profitable overall was also due to negative currency effects.

But the Post’s core business – domestic mail and parcels – weakened again. Sales stagnated at 3.9 billion euros and the operating result (EBIT) fell by 3 percent. If you deduct the additional costs for a special corona bonus paid to the workforce in the same quarter of the previous year, the minus is even 18 percent. In fact, the domestic letter and parcel market is more of a problem child: While management raised the annual forecast for the group as a whole, it lowered the target for the postal sector

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