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Shipping the Goods — May 2019

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In the late 90s FedEx briefly branded itself as the “Official Airline of the Internet”. It seemed plausible — transactions would be increasingly be conducted online. Amazon, the then new electronic bookstore, might carve out a small niche for itself in the publishing market. Google was just a search-engine. FedEx was perfectly positioned to provide rapid physical transport for goods ordered through websites.

It hasn’t quite worked out like that. FedEx is still the world’s largest air express operator, with a current fleet of 396 jets and 284 turboprops, but its traffic volumes have been stagnant or in decline for some time — even accounting for its 2016 acquisition of European TNT Express. Its relationship with the internet and e-commerce has been complicated.


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