Air traffic halt stalls mail

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— The government's order halting air traffic over United States airspace since Tuesday did more than keep passengers on the ground.

Mail that is usually shipped by plane must now be transported by truck.

Steamboat Springs is not under the same strain as New York City and Washington, D.C., but slower delivery times should still be expected, Vigil Padilla, a supervisor at the Steamboat Springs post office, said.

About 70 percent of the letters and packages mailed through the U.S. Postal Service are still being shipped on trucks, so delivery time should not be significantly effected by the ban on air travel, Padilla said. The two-day guarantee for first-class and priority mail, however, does not apply while planes are grounded, he said.

Post offices are capable of handling the demand right now but drawn-out restrictions on air travel could further delay first-class and priority mail, Padilla said.

"Another few days of no air travel, and we will definitely be feeling the backup," Padilla said.

Al Callahan, who owns Mail Boxes, Etc., said he has not noticed a big difference in delivery time.

Customers who drop off their mail at Postnet Postal and Business Services shouldn't worry about too many delays either, owner Terry Stokes said.

Shipping services in Steamboat Springs depend on the United Parcel Service and Federal Express to deliver their packages.

UPS and FedEx operations have been limited to ground transportation.

"Because they can't deliver by air, we can't expect the same time frame for deliveries," Stokes said. "But we don't anticipate that for long."

Fragile packages that are sensitive to truck shipments are being held until they can be shipped by air, but all other packages are going out, he added.

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