Omicron issues are impacting staffing and service for FedEx

A customer service advisory issued earlier today by Memphis-based global freight transportation and logistics services titan FedEx stated that the company is again dealing with service disruptions, as was the case earlier this year.

“The explosive surge of the COVID-19 Omicron variant has caused a temporary shortage of available crew members and operational staff in the FedEx Express air network,” the company said. “The health and safety of our team members is our top priority. We are implementing contingency plans and adjusting operations to minimize delays while continuing to provide the best possible service to our customers during these difficult times. Economy Domestic FedEx Express Freight (FedEx 2Day Freight and FedEx 3Day Freight) is currently suspended. Previously paused FedEx International Economy Freight pick-ups resumed Monday, January 31st.”

On January 4, FedEx suspended its Express on-call pickups across the U.S., for that day, due to the strain put on its operations by both the storms and Omicron, as they continue to impact staffing.

A Wall Street Journal report noted that FedEx has struggled over the last year to “adequately staff its vast delivery network due to the pandemic and tight labor market.”  

The report added that FedEx said in December that higher pay, more paid time off, flexible scheduling and other incentives have helped FedEx to attract and retain enough workers to staff operations during the busiest time of the year.

As has been reported by LM, these challenges brought about by the pandemic and weather, too, continue to be an underlying theme in logistics and freight transportation, regardless of a company’s size, mode, or geography, among other factors.  

“We are seeing these challenges across the logistics industry,” said John Haber, president of Transportation Insight’s parcel business unit. “There are massive driver shortages to start 2022, with a lot of it due to Omicron and obviously the weather is wreaking havoc. And you combine the labor situation with the weather, and it is not a great start to the year logistics-wise.”

That situation was also highlighted by Echo Global Logistics CEO Doug Waggoner, in a recent interview, when he observed that since the holidays freight volumes have somewhat tapered down.

“It is not because demand has let up at all; it is because there are no drivers,” he said. “You had a lot of drivers that have not gone back to work since the holidays and are also being impacted by Covid. So, for the last couple of weeks, we have seen prices stay very, very high, and it is very hard to find trucks. Frankly, it is limiting how much freight can be moved right now. I think the way that plays out is over the next few weeks, as more drivers come back to work, you are going to see the volumes surge, but it is still going to be tight capacity, because there is so much freight to be moved.”

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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