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U.S. Postal Service's airport location to close

By Maria-Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

While passing through the South Terminal of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Melissa Nicely, an Atlanta resident and frequent flier, stopped at the post office and used the Automated Postal Center to weigh her package, before mailing it.

When asked if she knew the post office at the airport would soon be closing, she sighed, "Oh, wow. Guess that means I'll have to take care of my business before I get to the airport. It was just convenient."

After more than a decade of operation, the U.S. Postal Service location at the world's busiest airport will close on Jan. 31, despite attempts to keep it open, said Michael Miles, a spokesman for the postal service.

The postal location was one of three considered for closure last year. Miles said the postal service analyzed the location closely, and was aware of its low revenue, low customer traffic and low mail volume.

Several months ago, in attempts to keep it operating, the postal service negotiated with airport management for a possible relocation of the site at Hartsfield-Jackson. "In the end, we decided that we would not operate," Miles said.

"We realized it was not a good location to keep open," he added.

Katena Carvajales, a spokeswoman for Hartsfield-Jackson, said the FedEx drop box location, near the main security checkpoint area, will be available for passengers to leave their FedEx packages.

Carvajales added that the Concessions Unit of the Department of Aviation at Hartsfield-Jackson will not have any specific information on the post office, until Thursday, Dec. 16.

Miles said that, due to security purposes, he is not allowed to discuss a specific location's revenue, but it was not making enough. He added that approximately 30 percent of the postal service's revenue derives from services other than across-the-window transactions. Those services include, online and Automated Postal Centers, he said.

He said there is usually about two retail associates on duty at the Hartsfield-Jackson location, which is an extension of the post office in Hapeville. Employees staffed at the airport location rotate shifts and work at both locations.

"Employees, who have been working there [airport location], will be reassigned somewhere else," said Miles.

He said the post office began operating at the airport in the Spring of 1996, just in time for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. The postal service thought the airport location would be a good addition, because of the anticipated increase in airport passengers, due to the Olympic Games.

"It was a good idea at the time," he said.

Miles said the airport post office is following the trend of other post offices across the country, with low mail volume and customer traffic. Since 2006, mail volume has fallen 20 percent nationwide, and that number is expected to increase to 37 percent in the next decade, he said.

Most people have become more tech savvy, he said, and are using electronic means of communication. "People don't [mail or read] letters like they use to," he said.