How FedEx Makes Christmas Happen

A FedEx plane lands every 90 seconds.

FedEx will soon be using robots to make deliveries. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Getty Images

During Christmastime, each night at Memphis International Airport in Tennessee, a FedEx plane carrying holiday packages lands every 90 seconds.

“It’s more than every 90 seconds. I’ve heard that number thrown out there, but it’s quicker than that,” Walter Kirkeminde, a senior manager at FedEx’s Memphis World Hub, told Popular Mechanics.

One of FedEx’s 2,150 stations, the hub takes up about 1,200 acres of Memphis International Airport, and processes around 2 million packages per night (about 505,000 an hour).

The time of year between Thanksgiving and Christmas is called “peak.” FedEx hires extra employees, and adds additional trucks and planes to their fleet.

FedEx even has a “roving freelancer” plane that’s ready to scoop up packages from anywhere along a flight route: “We actually fly a plane every night designed to be 100 percent empty,” says Marcus Martinez, vice president of Global Operations Control. “I call it the Nike Swoosh flight, because we’ll fly it from Denver down to the Mexico border, turn left over Dallas and come into Memphis.”

Federal Express also employs a team of 15 college and military-trained meteorologist who work around the clock each day in an attempt to predict how FedEx will be affected by the atmosphere.

Up north in the Bronx, New York delivery elves are sorting packages. This facility is one of the last places packages will be before they begin their final journey to the actual customer. The sorting starts at 6:20am and seems to never end.

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