March 1, 2013, 1:18 PM

Retail shipments should still fly through the sequester

Amid looming federal spending cuts, commercial air traffic may do OK.

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While keeping a wary eye on the pending slashes to federal spending that will cut budgets for air travel control, companies involved in shipping say they don’t expect disruptions in the shipping of retail goods.

Jeffrey Ehrlich, president of Fulfillment Plus Inc., a Holtsville, NY-based firm that handles fulfillment and shipping for retailers and other companies, says carriers FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. have each told him that retailers should be unaffected, at least in the near future, by any cuts to the federal air traffic control system.

“The next couple of days we’ll find out more, but what I’m hearing from UPS and FedEx is that any cuts to air traffic control operations will affect the flying public, but that commercial flights will get priority,” Ehrlich says. FedEx issued a statement noting that it doesn’t expect interruptions to its air shipping services.

UPS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In Washington, D.C. today, President Barack Obama met with Congressional leaders in a final attempt to prevent a planned sequester that will slash federal spending beginning at the end of today unless there’s agreement on spending cuts and tax revenue. No resolution had been made as of this morning.

“FedEx is closely monitoring the situation,” a FedEx spokeswoman says. “It is premature to speculate about what, if any, impact sequestration will have on FedEx operations, but we have extensive experience in contingency planning and we are confident we will be able to meet our customers’ needs and continue providing reliable service.”

Will Gensburg, a managing partner and co-founder of i-parcel LLC, a company that relies heavily on air travel to provide international shipping services to retailers, says he expects no noticeable interruptions in service. “All of our airline partners have told us they see no changes on their horizon,” he says.

Still, Gensburg and others say they will continue to monitor commercial air travel closely for any interruptions related to the federal spending cuts.

Ehrlich notes that his retailer clients, whose shipments mostly travel by ground services, have expressed more concern regarding the effect of federal spending cuts in reducing employment and consumer spending.

 

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